By Trent Moore
The Cullman Times
Organizers typically make sure the city looks more than festive for the annual Christmas in Cullman event. But this year, they’re aiming for a full-fledged winter wonderland.
From a downtown ice skating rink to horse-drawn carriages, officials say the Saturday-Sunday Christmas in Cullman could be the biggest ever for the Cullman Area Chamber of Commerce’s 27-year-old event.
“This is a kickoff to the Christmas season and a reminder to shop locally within the community in the coming months,” interim Cullman Area Chamber of Commerce President Leah Bolin said. “This, I really believe, could be the best one. We’ve spread the net even further, as far as advertising outside the area in addition to inside the county. It’s a great opportunity for all participants and we encourage folks to come out and spend some quality time in the different pockets of town offering different things.”
The annual event is typically a boon for local merchants, and Bolin said she hopes the two days of shopping will give visitors a chance to explore shops they might not typically visit.
“It is all about shopping within our community and keeping those tax dollars here, absolutely,” Bolin said. “It’s a great time for folks to come out and enjoy things locally in terms of entertainment, and to give back to the community through charitable organizations and events.”
As usual, shops will be open and decorated for the holiday season, and two tree-lighting ceremonies are scheduled at both Depot Park and the Cullman Shopping Center. Plus organizers hope some eye-catching new additions can serve as a catalyst this year.
For the first-time ever, the Wells Fargo stagecoach will be a part of the Christmas in Cullman parade beginning at 9:30 a.m. Saturday on First Avenue at Busy Bee Cafe. A beer garden, live musical entertainment, college football on big-screen TVs, a car show and a large children’s play area near Weiss Cottage is also planned.
A large free-to-use ice skating rink will also be installed in downtown Saturday and Sunday on First Avenue SE, sponsored by the Cullman Downtown Merchant’s Association and Cullman Parks and Recreation.
“Each year the downtown merchants look forward to its involvement with Christmas in Cullman and over the last several years it has grown exponentially,” merchant’s association president Nathan Anderson said. “We’re extremely enthusiastic about the addition of an outdoor ice skating rink, and without the parks department’s help we couldn’t bring it to the community. Cullman is a unique community, especially for the region, and an event like this is an excellent opportunity to feature our uniqueness.”
Trent Moore can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org, or by telephone at 734-2131, ext. 220.