After taking a year off to give a wide berth to the COVID-19 pandemic, Cullman and other Alabama cities are set to stretch their legs once more for an annual April tradition: weekly walking tours that take guests on an informative Saturday stroll through the historic downtown.
Starting at 10 a.m. this Saturday and continuing each weekend throughout the month of April, a rotating roster of local guides will set off with inquisitive walkers for an hour-long look into the city’s past. Each weekly tour will begin at the Cullman County Museum across from city hall.
Museum director Drew Green says each of the four walks will be its own distinct experience, following varying itineraries created by each guide. The twin spires of Sacred Heart of Jesus Catholic Church, local shops that mingle new and old facades along the length of First Avenue, and deeper glimpses at historic structures like the Stiefelmeyer Building are usually popular stops — but the guides (and the guests) are free to improvise.
“We have different local historians to lead each of the tours, and where they end up taking the group is up to them,” he said. “Each one has different interests and pieces of local knowledge, so there’s a variety in what you might see and learn from one week to the next.
“We try to structure the tours to end up back near our starting point after an hour, so that people can leave if they need to. But if some folks are interested in seeing more after taking a break, our guides are usually able and happy to keep on going.”
In all, more than 20 Alabama cities have joined in for this year’s statewide walking tours, which are sponsored and promoted by the Alabama Department of Tourism. Tours this year are adapting to ongoing public health precautions relating to the pandemic; Green said face masks will be required and that there won’t be any indoor visits, as there’ve been in past years, at any of the structures along the route.
All of the April walking tours throughout Alabama are free and open for anyone to join, and unless there are severe weather conditions, they’re rain-or-shine events. Tours are scheduled for April 3, 10, 17, and 24, with each week’s walk departing at 10 a.m. Cullman native Ben South will guide this Saturday’s first tour.
Some walkers have made it a tradition to tour a different city each week, showing up for all four tour dates throughout the month. If day-tripping outside Cullman sounds like an appealing way to start your April Saturdays, North Alabama is well represented on the long list of participants with tours in Athens, Birmingham, Florence, Moulton, Springville, Tuscumbia, and more.
Below is a full listing of all tour locations statewide, with local contacts for each event.
Athens-Limestone — Starting from the Athens Limestone Visitors Center. Contact: Teresa Todd at 256-777-7836.
Attalla — Starting from the Gazebo at 4th St. and 5th Ave. Contact: Debby Carden at 256-538-1872.
Bayou Le Batre — Starting from Mariner’s Park. Contact: Beth Fox at 251-709-7687
Birmingham — Starting from the Fred Shuttlesworth statue at the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute. Contact: Gina Mallisham at 866-328-9696, ext 211.
Cullman — Starting from the Cullman County Museum. Contact: Drew Green at 256-739-1258.
Decatur — Decatur is offering a virtual tour option for 2021. Pre-recorded tours will be posted at 10 a.m. each Saturday morning on the city’s website at www.decaturcvb.org.
Elba — Starting from the Elba Chamber of Commerce. Contact: Sandy Bynum at 334-879-3125.
Elkmont — Starting from the Elkmont Depot. Contact: Richard Martin at 256-732-3379.
Enterprise — Starting from Pea River Historical Society. Contact: Tammy Doerer at 334-389-1554.
Fairhope — Starting from the Fairhope Welcome Center. Contact: Gabriel Gold-Vukson at 251-929-1474.
Florence — Starting from various locations. Contact: Alison Stanfield at 256-740-4141.
Foley — Starting from the Foley Welcome Center. Contact: LaDonna Hinesley at 251-943-1200.
Mobile — Starting from the Welcome Center at The History Museum of Mobile. Contact: Patty Kiefer at 251-208-2012.
Monroeville — Starting from the Monroe County Museum. Contact: Penelope Hines at 251-743-2879.
Montgomery — Starting from Court Square Winter Building. Contact: Marion Winn at 334-261-1107.
Mooresville — Starting from the Mooresville Post Office. Contact: Nikki Sprader at 256-445-2590.
Moulton — Starting from the Lawrence County Archives. Contact: Loretta Gillespie at 256-476-1166.
Pell City — Starting from Pell City City Hall. Contact: Urainah Glidewell at 205-338-3377.
Prattville — Starting from Prattaugan Museum. Contact: Barbara Gaston at 334-361-0961.
Selma — Starting from the Selma-Dallas County Public Library. Contact: Sheryl Smedley at 334-875-7241.
Sheffield — Starting from Sheffield City Hall. Contact: Jimmy Austin at 256-627-2953.
Springville — Starting from the Springville Museum Contact: Carol Waid at 205-837-2586.
Tuscumbia — Starting from the Coldwater Bookstore. Contact: Susann Hamlin at 256-383-0783.