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|Christmas lights in Vidalia|
The Vidalia Christmas Display, featuring the old International Paper Company displays, may draw a record number of visitors this year.
"So far, this has been the biggest year as far as attendance at this date," said Vidalia Mayor Hyram Copeland. "It's been really good and we've had people from Baton Rouge and Monroe come up just to look at those displays."
Copeland remembers well the tradition of driving to International Paper in Natchez during the Christmas season to view the handmade displays, which feature various Christmas scenes. The display drew visitors from throughout Louisiana and Mississippi and other states.
"People actually took sandwiches and visited with others while the waited in line," Copeland said. "We thoroughly enjoyed it and wanted to bring that tradition back and I believe we have."
The new displays now featured on the riverfront in Vidalia were constructed in 2006 and each year one or two displays have been added, making a total of 26 currently. There were 17 in 2006.
"Every year we hope to add at least one or two more," Copeland said. "We even have sponsorships open for a couple of them. City employees work very hard all year long to upgrade them."
He said adults seem to enjoy the displays as much as children and visitors have the added enjoyment of good views of the Mississippi River and the Natchez bluffs.
"We're very excited about the response," said Copeland, adding that an old Christmas tradition for both sides of the river lives again.
Some of the displays are based upon the originals from I.P. that were originally designed by Lanus Hammack, who signed some of the displays last year.
Viewing of the displays is open for walkers or passing cars from 5:30 to 10 p.m. each day through January 1, 2010.
There is no charge to view the exhibit, but donations are welcomed.
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