City of Sulphur event is Christmas at its merriest

Published 11:15 am Sunday, September 11, 2022

Christmas Under the Oaks celebrates its 20th anniversary this year. The city of Sulphur’s premiere holiday event combines shopping from local retail, crafting and nonprofit vendors galore, “snow,” carriage rides down Pecan Street to see the Christmas lights and decorations, live entertainment featuring a Saturday night headliner, school choir performances, carnival rides, delicious food and the Kiwanis Christmas parade that pleases all ages. Even the Grinch loves Christmas Under the Oaks.

“Through the years, vendor spaces for the Holiday House at Christmas Under the Oaks have grown to fill two buildings, plus outdoor space,” said Oneida Loup, event chair since 2004.

One of the buildings used in the past to accommodate the massive number of vendors was the Brimstone Museum.

“We lost our beloved museum after the hurricanes. It housed a permanent display that told the story of Sulphur’s past including highlighting information about the Sulphur Mines,” Loup said.

All proceeds from vendor shopping — the Holiday House at Christmas Under the Oaks — go to the Brimstone Historical Society. It is the major fundraiser for this nonprofit.

Loup added two events to Holiday House, the preview party and the very popular Breakfast with Santa/Cookies with Santa event.

“It was the late Al Prebula and his wife Patricia who made The Holiday House Preview Party possible,” Loup said. “Then it was the late Evelyn Gay Duhon who made it happen for many years. The Breakfast with Santa event was discontinued when local churches began to host similar breakfast events the same weekend. Until the storm, we continued the cookie event.”

This year, many of the same activities are planned as those enjoyed in previous years. Holiday House at Christmas Under the Oaks has offered as many as 46 vendors. Planning for the event is almost a year-round affair.

“The main work getting our shopping event ready happens early in the year,” Loup said, “getting vendors lined up, entertainment at the Henning House, setting up the preview party.”

In addition to hands-on work by Loup, Thom Trahan and Kat Godsey, executive director and assistant executive director of  Brimstone Historical Society pitch in to make the event a success.

“My favorite things to shop for are food and decor,” Loup said. “But food and decor are only the tip of the iceberg. Tom and I work to attract a variety of vendors offering great gifts for all and at a range of price points. Many of our vendors return year after year, and a couple have been with us since I began, some before I began.”

The city of Sulphur procures the live entertainment for the festival each year and concerts are free to all. One year, Howie Simon, a board member and Los Angeles talent agent, brought out Nadia Bjorlin from “Days of Our Lives” to sign autographs.

“Of course, with an event of this size, it just couldn’t happen without the Christmas Under the Oaks committee made up of board members, our city workers and Sulphur Parks and Recreation. Past SPAR executive director Norman Farr helped tremendously in getting this event off the ground, and I am looking forward to working with Laurie Koelzer, our new SPAR executive director.”

Christmas Under the Oaks begins with the Holiday House Preview Parity 6:30-9:30 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 1. Cost is $35. Proceeds benefit Brimstone Historical Society. The price includes shopping, live music provided by Jarius Daigle, son of late Chester Daigle and is catered by Roderick Stutes. Regular shopping days are Friday, Dec. 2 and Saturday, Dec. 3. Gates open at 10 a.m. and close at 8:30 p.m. Admission on regular shopping days is $5 per person. Children 12 and under admitted free of charge. No strollers in the building.