Demopolis ready for week full of excitement, activity

Published 12:00 am Monday, December 2, 2002

From Staff Reports

Nominations have been announced for the honor of being named St. Nicholas for the 31st annual Christmas on the River (COTR) festival.

Bernice Spidle, Billy Bedsole, Reid Ward, Patrick Ellis and Dan Wilson are among the nominations this year.

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A Demopolis resident who best portrays the spirit of Christmas all year long is named St. Nicholas and reigns over all COTR events. St. Nicholas will be crowned Monday at 5:30 p.m. in the Demopolis Public Square.

Monday’s event is just one of many planned for the week-long celebration of the season that has drawn crowds to Demopolis for over 30 years. Christmas on the River has grown from a river parade of

"floats that really float" to a week of activities that include the entire community.

Festivities are planned through Saturday, December 7.

The all-volunteer event in this city of 8,000 has attracted up to 40,000 visitors on the final day, which is crammed with two parades, a 5K run, the Alabama Championship Barbecue Cook-off and the Fair in the Square.

This year’s celebration has even more to offer visitors. A new lighted walking tour entitled "The Gift of Lights" has been added to the festivities. The Lights opened Friday at the site of old Demopolis botanical gardens and will continue through December. Admission is $3 for the light show.

Other COTR traditional events will be held the throughout this week. Among the week’s highlights are:

The Fair in the Square for artists, craftsmen and food vendors, sponsored by the Demopolis High School Band Boosters and set up around the Public Square from 7:30 to 4 p.m. on Saturday, December 7.

The Children’s Day Parade that treats visitors to elegant floats, marching bands and the Grand Marshal Bart Butler at 11:30 a.m. on December 7.

The Alabama Championship Barbeque Cook-off, the last officially sanctioned preliminary event for the national barbeque competition at Memphis in May, begins at 4 p.m. on Friday, December 6.

There are Christmas Events at historic Bluff Hall, and the Gaineswood mansion which feature special period music and local citizens dressed in period costumes from 5:30 to 8 p.m. on Thursday, December 5.

The official Demopolis city Christmas tree will be lighted by Mayor Austin Caldwell Monday at 6 p.m. in the Demopolis Public Square.

The week long activities culminate with The Night Nautical Parade December 7 featuring over 20 lighted floats presented against the backdrop of a festive fireworks display. The night parade begins at 6:30 p.m. on Saturday, December 7.

For more information on COTR, call 289-0270.