Pelican Publishing Celebrates 50th Anniversary of Cajun Night Before Christmas® with Two Special Editions

Published 9:30 am Sunday, September 11, 2022

New Orleans – Pelican Publishing is pleased to announce two deluxe 50th  Anniversary editions of their classic tale, Cajun Night Before Christmas. Both  editions will be available for purchase October 24, 2022.

Take the classic story of jolly old St. Nicholas, place it in a Louisiana bayou setting, dress Santa Claus in muskrat “from his head to his foot,” pile his skiff high with toys, and hitch it to eight friendly alligators. The result is this modern classic. Fifty years after its first appearance, Cajun Night Before Christmas has served as the model for Pelican’s ongoing, best-selling Night

Before Christmas series. The Cajun Night Before Christmas has been a part of Louisiana’s holiday traditions since it was first published in 1973. A delight to both young and old with its rustic full-color illustrations and lively story, it has become a timeless addition to holiday celebrations far beyond south Louisiana, reaching all corners of the country with its charming presentation of Christmas on the bayou and the break-out star of Gaston® the Green-Nosed Alligator.

Conceived by J. B. Kling, Jr., Cajun Night Before Christmas® originally appeared as a Christmas message from Bergeron Plymouth Company of New Orleans. Under the pseudonymous byline “Trosclair,” the story won a Clio Award in 1967 from the Academy of Television and Radio Advertising. Brought to life by the talented James Rice, the humorous illustrations of a colorful bayou Christmas have been nationally recognized as a classic in its genre.

Regarding the 50th anniversary, publisher Scott Campbell says, “After 50 years and over one million copies sold, Cajun Night Before Christmas is more popular and more beloved than ever. This holiday classic shares with a national audience Louisiana’s wonderful Cajun people, their language, and their customs.”

The 50th Anniversary edition, which retails for $24.95, includes eight pages of curated content released from the Pelican archives that showcase the rich legacy of storytelling within Louisiana and the far reach that a humble (or not so humble!) gator has had on Cajun culture, Louisiana, and the entire country. An additional limited edition $39.95 Special Edition includes a slipcover.

Interviews, review copies, and photos are available upon request. Please contact Hampton Ryan at hryan@arcadiapublishing or 904.671.5506 for more information.


“Forget Dancer, Prancer, Comet, and Vixen. . . . Good Clement, wherever he is, will not be gnashing his teeth.” —New York Times Book Review

“Rice is especially good with facial expressions, whether they are on a Texas jackrabbit, a longhorn steer, a dusty cowboy, or the green and long-nosed alligator named Gaston.” —Library Journal

“Rice is a master at making a story come alive with colorful detailed drawings.” —SouthEast Texas Examiner (Beaumont, TX)

About the Author

James Rice (1934-2004) was a fledgling illustrator when he collaborated with late Pelican publisher Dr. Milburn Calhoun to create his first book, the well-loved classic Cajun Night Before Christmas®. In his long, distinguished career as an author and illustrator, he would go on to produce more than sixty books for children. With more than 2.5 million books in print, he ranks among the nation’s best-selling creators of children’s books. In addition to the praise he received from the many schoolchildren he visited and all those young at heart, Mr. Rice won several awards throughout the years from Printer Industries of America and the Children’s Book Council. Mr. Rice died at his home in Hico, Texas, in May 2004.


Award Winning Works by James Rice include Gaston Goes to Texas (Certificate of Award, Printer Industries of America 1979), The

Night Before Christmas (Certificate of Merit, Printer Industries of America 1990), Why Cowboys Sleep with Their Boots On

(Certificate of Merit, Printer Industries of America 1996), Cajun Night Before Christmas® (Not Just for Children Anymore Classics,

CBC 2002),

The Teachers’ Night Before Christmas (Children’s Choices, CBC/IRA 2002), and Why Cowboys Need a Pardner (Children’s Books Mean Business, CBC 2002).


About Arcadia Publishing

As the nation’s leading publisher of books of local history and local interest, Arcadia’s mission is to connect people with their past, with their communities and with one another. Arcadia is the home of unique hyper-local histories of countless hometowns across all fifty states, as well as books on local food, beer and wine; and stories of famous hauntings, all one American city and town at a time. Arcadia has an extraordinary catalog of 17,000 local titles and publishes 500 new books each year. Arcadia counts among its imprints Pelican Publishing, a 100-year old independent press based in New Orleans, and the critically acclaimed Wildsam Publishing, publisher of highly curated travel literature and guides. Using its proprietary Store Match system, Arcadia can create a highly customized hyper-local book assortment for any storefront in the nation.