CULLMAN — Downtown shoppers can embrace the holiday spirit a little early this weekend, when the annual Christmas in Cullman open house begins Saturday.
Now in its 26th year, the downtown shopping event has grown into a huge local and regional draw for local merchants.
“This really is a good time for local businesses, and it gives us a chance to turn consumers’ attention into our downtown,” Cullman Downtown Merchant’s Association Vice-president Nathan Anderson said. “It jump starts the shopping season, just a bit before Thanksgiving, and it’s a really good time to get a leg-up on the typical after-Thanksgiving sales. Folks oftentimes find shops they’ve never even been in before, right here in downtown.”
As several business owners continue to recover and rebuild following the April 27 tornado that flattened entire blocks of downtown, Jackie Moore with the Cullman Area Chamber of Commerce said events like Christmas In Cullman help remind shoppers these businesses are still open.
“At this juncture, a part of it is about saying ‘Hey, we’re here,’” she said. “We had a lot happen in April, but our folks are still here, and we’ve had a lot of shops open and re-open. You don’t have to go outside of Cullman to shop and have a good time.”
A Christmas parade set for Saturday at 9:30 a.m., hosted by the merchant’s association, was added in recent years and now serves as a kickoff for the festivities. The route begins at the corner of First Avenue SE and Fifth Street SE (Weiss Cottage), and ends at the corner of Second Avenue SE and Fifth Street SE (Green House).
“There will be a lot more floats in the parade this year, and a lot of churches are getting involved with some friendly competition,” Anderson said. “We’ll have about 15-20 floats, compared to last year where we just had three. This year should be a really big, quality event.”