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COTR events begin

It’s that time again. Officials of the Demopolis Area Chamber of Commerce are busy marshaling the volunteer forces to prepare for the annual Christmas on the River Festival.

The festival season began last night with the Miss Christmas on the River Pageant. There will be three more pageants in the coming week in the Demopolis Civic Center.

The Miss Junior COTR Pageant will be held Monday at 7 p.m., and the Young Miss COTR Pageant will be held Tuesday at 7 p.m.

The Little Miss COTR pageant will be held Wednesday at 7 p.m. Van Kelly will be the master of ceremonies for each of the remaining pageants.

The winning court from each pageant will appear at various events throughout the upcoming COTR festival.

The chamber will be sponsoring a Holiday Open House for participating merchants in Demopolis. "They are going to serve refreshments," said Kathy Leverett, chamber president; "there’ll be giveaways and…special discounts."

COTR week begins with the lighting of the Love Light Tree at 5 p.m. on November 30 on the front lawn of Bryan W. Whitfield Memorial Hospital. The tree is sponsored by the hospital’s Ladies Auxiliary ("The Pink Ladies").

St. Nicholas will be crowned at 5:30 p.m. on December 1 at the gazebo on the Demopolis Public Square. Nominations are already being accepted by the chamber for who will be chosen as St. Nicholas in 2003. Anyone in the community who has worked with children through Scouting, Sunday School, education or other organizations, are eligible, Leverett said.

The lighting of city Christmas Tree will also be held at 6 p.m. on December 1 on the square. "We have a special tree that has been planted (in the square to be used for that event) thanks to the Beautification Committee," she said.

The Demopolis Singers will perform December 2 at First Baptist Church.

A live nativity scene will be presented from 5:30 to 7 p.m. on December 2 on the public square.

A community-wide church service will be held at 7 p.m. on December 3.

The annual "Christmas in the Canebrake" tour of the Bluff Hall and Gaineswood homes will be held from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. on December 4. Miss Alabama Catherine Crosby from Brewton will appear at both home throughout the evening, Leverett said.

There will be an open house from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on December 5 at the main office of Robertson Banking Company in downtown Demopolis.

The Alabama State Championship BBQ Cook-off will be held at 4 p.m. on December 5 in the City Landing ball field. Admission is $5, and limited samples of food from the 38 cooking teams will be available.

Judging for the BBQ cook-off will be held from noon to 4 p.m. on December 6.

The Fair in the Square featuring arts and crafts, food vendors and live music will begin at 7:30 a.m. and run until 4 p.m. on December 6 in the Demopolis Public Square. "We’re going to have some wonderful, very different food vendors," Leverett said.

The Jingle Bell Run/Walk begins at 9 a.m. on December 6 with registration at City Hall.

The Children’s Day Parade will start at 11:30 a.m. on December 6 at the old Main Street School and works its way around downtown until it ends at the Board of Education building. COTR officials are promising lots of exciting marching bands in the 2003 parade.

Demopolis Mayor Austin Caldwell will be the Grand Marshal of the day parade.

Leverett believes this year’s day parade could be the best ever.

There are plans for an animated film to be shown at 2 p.m. on December 6 in the Marengo Theatre. The title of the film was not known at press time. Admission will be free.

The popular Nautical River Parade and Fireworks Display will be held from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. on December 6 at the City Landing.

The COTR Dance will be held from 8:30 p.m. to midnight on December 6 at the Demopolis Civic Center. Hot Sauce will perform. There are limited tickets available at $50 each. Those attending must be 21 years or older.

Leverett is hopeful that the Food Network cable channel will come and film a documentary on the 2003 COTR festival, and there are some more last minute surprises which will be announced later.

In addition, volunteers and organizations are needed to work on the floats for the day and night parades. Mike Black (night parade) and Kirk Brooker (day parade) have already begun their work on preparing the floats. "Now that it’s cool, it’s a perfect time for that," Leverett said.

For more information on the 2003 COTR, call the chamber at 289-0270.