Preparation made entire week great

Published 12:00 am Thursday, December 8, 2005

There are probably hundreds of reasons Christmas on the River is one of the best festivals in Alabama and the Southeast. This weekend, and during the week leading up, it was hard to find people who were not having a good time at one of the many events.

Throughout the week I kept a list of things that make this festival great and compressed them into five big categories.

The first thing that makes Christmas on the River great is the time frame. There are several places that have weekend festivals, but not in Demopolis. We have an entire week of fun. It begins with the lighting of the Love Lights Tree and goes on for six more days.

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Throughout the week there are a variety of activities. There is truly something for everyone. The younger crowd participates in the Lantern Light parade and fun games downtown, while the older crowd can enjoy things such as the Alabama Symphony Orchestra and Christmas in the Canebrake.

There are also fun activities for people of all ages. This year, the Canebrake Players offered a production of “A Christmas Story.” There was also a Christmas Concert at the civic center and Children’s Day parade downtown.

Of course, there is also the food. Everything could be found downtown Saturday from gumbo, to catfish, to chicken on a stick. By the end of the day there weren’t many people who hadn’t filled themselves to capacity with some kind of fried or grilled goodies.

Food that was not on the menu also played a huge role in Christmas on the River. People came from all around to try their hand in the Alabama State Championship Barbecue Cook-off at the city landing. These mobile grilling units began to roll in early last week and did their part to lure people to the landing. I think I speak for everyone who was lucky enough to sample some of the barbecue teams hard work when I say it was truly a shame there could be only a handful of winners.

All of the fun and pageantry led up to another great show Saturday night. The nautical parade is always one of the favorite events and this year it kept the tradition. The fireworks show only added to the fun.

The fifth, and most important, thing that made this Christmas on the River great were the people who made it happen. Christmas on the River is not an event that just comes together. It takes careful planning from the city, chamber and committee heads to make things go smoothly.

This year, they were able to pull things off without a hitch again.