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ChillyFest will be lots of fun

It will be a chilly night, but what would be more appropriate for a festival named ChillyFest?

Tonight marks the beginning of the two-day Linden ChillyFest. It will open with a reception for Alabama’s state treasurer Kay Ivey at 4 p.m. at the First Baptist Church and continue with the annual caroling at Gazebo Park in the center of downtown and the Parade of Lights, one of the area’s largest night parades.

Add a chili cookoff, and that is usually where the activities end, but this year, a flood of ideas and the willingness of people in Linden to pitch in and volunteer has transformed the city’s one-night Christmas parade celebration into a two-day festival.

A Midway carnival is posed to open at 3 p.m. this afternoon and will open again tomorrow. There will also be vendors selling everything from food to arts and crafts.

A massive professional fireworks show will begin at 9 p.m., closing out the night’s celebration

Tomorrow’s events will begin with the first annual 5K Chilly Chili Run, walk and fun run at 9 a.m. The carnival will open again, as well as the vendors

The main attraction of the day will be the daylong preparations of over a dozen cooking teams vying for the title of best chili. There will be concoctions made from deer meat, turkey and whatever else they can come up with and still call it chili

Several classic cars and other vehicles will be on display throughout the day in the ChillyFest car show, and Santa Claus will drop in for a visit from 1 to 3 p.m.

To anyone who didn’t know, they would think all of this came about after months and months of planning, but the real truth is, most of the separate events like the fireworks show, carnival and 5K run actually was nothing more than an idea a couple of months ago.

The folks who have worked behind the scenes to make the ChillyFest possible had, in my opinion, exhibited the kind of cooperation you rarely see any more.

It reminds me of the Walt Disney movie “Pollyanna,” at least the part where the town’s citizens finally catch on to Pollyanna’s enthusiasm and begins to throw in their contributions of ideas and manpower. That’s what has happened here, too.

Once the wheels started turning, more and more people began to step up and offer suggestions and their time to see it through.

Bruce Ward, who was instrumental in getting the parade re-established three years ago, has taken on the enormous task of organizing the festival. Mayor Mitzi Gates and a whole host of volunteers, such as Mike Smith, Carter Echols, Terry Tyson, Danny Schroeder and many others, have worked endlessly to pull everything together.

I know it’s going to be cold tonight, but please come out and show your support and have fun. Tomorrow, the weather is expected to be beautiful.

Have fun and enjoy.

Note: John Few is a news reporter for the Demopolis Times.