Cheré Dastugue Coen
Christmas in Roseland
Shreveport’s annual holiday event lights up the gardens of the American Rose Society.
This article first appeared in the November 2021 issue of DeSoto magazine of Mississippi. Reprinted here with updates by permission of the author, Pamela A. Keene.
Most of the year, roses are center stage at America’s Rose Garden in Shreveport, La. As the headquarters of the American Rose Society, why not?
However, when the roses become dormant in winter, the elves come out to play, transforming the 118-acre garden into a holiday fantasyland filled with tens of thousands of shimmering lights, light displays, and a Christmas spectacular. Carillion bells peal out, choirs sing and Santa makes wishes come true during the event held Nov. 25 through Dec. 18 with an encore Dec 19-23.
“Over the past years, Christmas in Roseland has become a family tradition, with people who visited as youngsters now bringing their children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren,” said Jon Corkern, executive director of the American Rose Society. “Our display is not a drive-through; it’s a close-up walk-through look at the light displays. You can stand there right in the middle of the lights and just take it all in.”
Nightly entertainment by area church choirs, musical groups, bell choirs, and dancers is complemented by storytellers, clowns, and puppet performers. Fun foods include corn dogs, funnel cakes, and hot chocolate, plus roast jumbo marshmallows at the roasting station.
School children, from elementary through high school, create oversized Christmas Cards to the Community, on display throughout the garden.
“We provide the 4-by-8 plywood canvas, and (school) art classes decorate them with their holiday greetings. The only requirement is that the design includes a rose,” said Beth Smiley, editorial director for The American Rose Society. “The amount of talent in our youth just keeps getting better every year, and this is a wonderful way to share holiday messages from the heart.”
Christmas in Roseland is open Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays through Dec. 18, and nightly Dec. 19-23. Special activities include:
First Responders Night: Dec. 9, take $5 off a carload.
Military Appreciation Night: Dec. 11, take $5 off a carload.
Postal Worker & Delivery Driver Appreciation Night: Dec. 18 — all USPS, UPS, Fedex, and other mail delivery drivers will receive $5 off a carload admission into the gardens with proof or identification.
Light Up The Gardens - Firework Finale Show: Dec. 17 and 23 at 8:30 p.m., sponsored by the Shreveport-Bossier Convention and Tourist Bureau.
Roseland Christmas Vendor Market - Friday through Sunday, Dec. 2-4 where local artists and craftsmen offer their hand-crafted items. “This is a perfect time to shop for that one-of-a-kind gift for the special people on your list,” Corkern said. “And remember to visit our two gift shops open during Christmas in Roseland: our seasonal Santa holiday store and the garden’s permanent gift shop.”
PRINCESSES IN THE GARDENS The princesses of Never Ending Stories, LLC will be at the admin building in the gardens and visiting with guests 6-8 p.m. Dec. 4, 11 and 17.
Finale Night & Candlelight Sing-A-Long - A candle-lit singalong of Christmas favorites will be Friday, Dec. 23, with a firework show sponsored by the Shreveport-Bossier Convention and Tourist Bureau. “We’ll be singing all the Christmas classics and holiday favorites,” Corkern said. “It’s one of the most popular nights of Christmas in Roseland.”
Every Night – Marshmallow Station and Santa. Purchase a ticket for a $2 marshmallow roasting kit or $4 s'more kit to roast at the roasting station. Santa in the Garden is 6-9 p.m. nightly; $10 per photo.
Admission to Christmas in Roseland is $10 per person or $30 per carload; ages 2 and younger are admitted free. Purchase tickets at the gate with cash. Cards are accepted in the gift shop or purchase tickets online here. Group rates are $200 per minibus for up to 25 people; $250 per charter bus for 26-plus people; $210 for up to 26 people and $5 for each additional person. Call Carol at (318) 938-5402, Ext. 108, to make a group reservation.
$5 off a carload admission coupons are available from the Shreveport-Bossier Convention and Tourist Bureau office in downtown Shreveport.
The Louisiana Holiday Trail of Lights
Christmas in Roseland is featured on the Louisiana Holiday Trail of Lights, comprised of seven locations throughout the Bayou State: Alexandria/Pineville, Minden, Monroe/West Monroe, Ruston, Logansport, Natchitoches, and Shreveport/Bossier City. The trail includes several community Christmas festivals, a tour of homes, shopping, and holiday foods.
Journalist and photographer Pamela A. Keene’s favorite flower is the hybrid tea rose. At her home, Rose Lane northeast of Atlanta, she grows 60 named varieties of long-stemmed fragrant hybrid tea roses.