New Orleans is a city that has long marched to the beat of a different drummer — a flamboyant, fabulously attired and slightly inebriated drummer.
It shouldn’t be a surprise then that the age-old tradition of the Big Easy doing things its own special way extends to Christmas tree disposal.
That said, New Orleans doesn’t necessarily deviate from other major cities when it comes to the collection of thousands upon thousands of de-tinseled fir trees. Per the Department of Sanitation, residents of Orleans Parish are asked to place their old trees — stripped of all ornamentation, of course — curbside on regularly scheduled trash pickup days. Nothing unusual with that. It’s what happens next, after the trees are collected and spirited away by sanitation workers, that’s unique.
Unlike a large — and steadily increasing — number of municipalities that convert Christmas trees into compost by way of industrial-sized mulching machines, tossed-out Tannenbaums in the historic Southern city are treated to a typically — and, in this case, literally — splashy send-off. And it’s a splashy send-off that just happens to involve the assistance of the Louisiana National Guard.
As is custom over the past 15-plus years, the city's Office of Coastal and Environmental Affairs in collaboration with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) and the Louisiana National Guard's 1st Assault Helicopter Battalion, 244th Aviation Regiment, will oversee an annual “Christmas Tree Drop” later this spring using trees collected through New Orleans' post-holiday curbside pickup program.