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Mall pulls plug on Katrina-inspired display

A La. mall has pulled the plug on an unconventional, hurricane-inspired holiday display at a suburban New Orleans shopping mall.
/ Source: The Associated Press

It’s no ordinary holiday season in the Gulf Coast this year, so Frank Evans built an unconventional holiday display at a suburban New Orleans shopping mall to match.

He thought the tiny blue-tarped roofs, little toppled fences and miniature piles of hurricane debris in the display he builds annually for the mall struck just the right humorous tone.

The mall disagreed and told Evans, a landscape architect from nearby Gretna, to dismantle it.

“Although most people did enjoy the decorations, a few customers found the display to be in poor taste,” said a statement issued Tuesday night by Lakeside Shopping Center in Metairie.

Evans videotaped the 60-foot display before dismantling it. The creation had sat since mid-November among a grand, more traditional display of gleaming Christmas trees, colorful gifts wrapped in holiday paper and Santa’s elves on carousel horses.

Bob and Jill Patin of Gentilly liked the “You Loot, We Shoot” graffiti on one of the ruined refrigerators.

“It’s priceless,” Jill Patin said. The couple, who are rebuilding their home that had wind and flood damage, came to the mall just to see the display, she said. And they weren’t alone.

Kim Koster heard about it and brought her camera. “It’s like putting Christmas lights up on your FEMA trailer. It just makes you feel better,” said the New Orleans resident, whose home was flooded.

As children rode by on a motorized train that circled the display, Ray Smith and his wife, Marcia, chuckled at the “Caution -- Operates Only in Good Weather” sign next to a model of a Jefferson Parish pumping station. It was a wry reference to a decision by Jefferson Parish president Aaron Broussard to evacuate pump operators before Katrina hit on Aug. 29, inundating the area.

“At times like this, you need a little humor,” Ray Smith said.