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.”
Across downtown, shops will be decorated with wreaths, and store windows will be decked out in Christmas themes. Stores will host giveaways, horse-drawn carriage rides will be offered, and food vendors will be set at Festhalle Market Platz. Live music is also on tap, with Grammy-nominated musician Claire Lynch playing a free street show outside Berkeley Bob’s Coffee House Sunday afternoon.
To keep up with what shoppers and visitors think of the event, The Times will also be hosting a Storify at CullmanTimes.com, filled with curated Twitter updates and Flickr photos taken by visitors in downtown. Want to have your thoughts or photos included? Tweet your photos and comments, post a public Facebook status, or post a public Flickr photo with the hashtag “#ChristmasInCullman.” We’ll be keeping up with posts and adding them to our website throughout the day. Be sure to include the #ChristmasInCullman hashtag in Twitter, as it serves as a topic tag for us to find your comment.
The event is sponsored by the Cullman Area Chamber of Commerce.
‰ A previous version of this story incorrectly attributed a comment to a downtown merchant’s official. It should have been attributed to the Cullman Area Chamber of Commerce. The Times apologizes for the error.
‰ Trent Moore can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org, or by telephone at 734-2131, ext. 220.