Alexandria-native to headline Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade for Louisiana

This year, an Alexandria native will take the stage of Louisiana's Celebration Gator in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, representing Cenla!
Published: Nov. 17, 2023 at 11:21 PM CST|Updated: Nov. 22, 2023 at 8:30 PM CST
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ALEXANDRIA, La. (KALB) - Louisiana’s Celebration Gator is preparing to roll down the streets of New York City in less than a week for the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade for the third year in a row. Each year, the float has hosted a Louisiana native as its headline performer. In 2021, that artist was New Orleans native Jon Batiste. In 2022, Lainey Wilson of Baskin sang her way to 34th Street.

This year, an Alexandria native will take the stage, representing Central Louisiana in a big way.

Alex Smith grew up in Alexandria, spending much of his time inside Red River Music, fostering a love of music first instilled in him by his family. Now, Smith will bring the sounds of the Pelican State to the streets of the Big Apple with what he calls Louisiana Country.

“I took a bunch of the songwriting aspects that 90s country has, but then also loved all the swampiness that we have in our culture and our music with slide guitars and [sic] and all these things that are Louisiana kinda feeling and swampy even in the texture of them,” said Smith. “So it’s kinda come together in this blend of Louisiana and Nashville to me is what I consider Louisiana country.”

There is no better stage to showcase the uniquely Louisiana mashup than from the top of the 60-foot-long Celebration Gator.

“We surely stole the show each year with that gator crawling down the street, blowing confetti out its mouth, it really shows Louisiana,” said Lt. Gov. Billy Nungesser. “Especially since the Swamp People, Duck Dynasty and the swamp tours have been a big part of our tourism, that super gator just fits really well to promote Louisiana.”

Nungesser’s office estimates the parade has reached 2.4 billion viewers in the past two years, totaling more than $22 million in advertising value, which has meant great things for Louisiana’s tourism industry.

As he looks to showcase a little bit of home, it should mean great things for Smith too.

“I’m just overwhelmingly grateful for the opportunity. I am so excited to be able to represent my city in such a national exposure experience,” said Smith. “I hope it just brings joy to all these people that get to watch this on TV and show that’s what our culture and our music does. Because you can’t go to a single bar in Louisiana that doesn’t have a live band and there’s dancing, there’s not a still foot in the house. And I think that’s what Louisiana kind of represents is that style of music and that style of energy throughout the state.”

Smith will be joined by Mandeville fiddler Amanda Shaw to usher in the holiday season with his debut album “Bootshake.”

The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade begins at 7:30 a.m. CT on NBC and Peacock.

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