City Park is a magical place during the holidays, and not just if you’re a kid. City Park, located in mid-city on a former swamp that later became Allard Plantation facing Bayou St. John, is spread out over 1300 acres and is the sixth-largest and seventh-most visited public park in the United States. It’s one of the country’s oldest parks; the original land grant was established in 1854. It’s half again as big as Central Park in New York City. Even though it took a beating during Hurricane Katrina, the park has rebounded and is expanding even more in the next few years. During the holidays, it’s a place to visit that never fails to delight visitors and locals.
City Park is the home of the stunning Celebration in the Oaks, a visual delight of countless light exhibits hung in the century and a half old oak trees that make City Park one of the most beautiful public spaces in the country. But there’s also the carousel, for a slow ride through history. The antique wooden carousel at City Park, one of 100 wood crafted carousels left in the country, celebrated its 100th birthday in 2006. The National Register of Historic Places recognizes it and it recently underwent a renovation. There are thirteen vintage rides available during Celebration in the Oaks. There’s a mini-train that kids can ride on throughout the park, decorated especially for the holidays, and a Cajun Night Before Christmas display. There’s even a synthetic ice rink, allowing Southerners the experience of skating the way they do in the Olympics. The Botanical Gardens Storyland and a children’s theme park are must-dos for the family with small children.
For many New Orleanians, visiting City Park’s Celebration in the Oaks is a beloved holiday tradition. It’s even got Mr. Bingle, the quintessential New Orleans Christmas character, a snowman who used to help Santa Claus at the now-defunct Canal Street Maison Blanche Department Store. We love our history here. City Park’s Celebration in the Oaks makes it all come to life.