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Annual event needs volunteers

As Demopolis’ 37th annual Christmas on the River festival approaches there remains more work to do than hands to get it done. The planning committee has been utilizing Tuesday evening to work on floats for the parade, but have thus far been fighting an uphill battle as the number of volunteers has been slight this year.

“It’s a lot of hours. We need people to come down and help paper mache. We’ll teach them. It’s not hard,” committee chairperson Jennifer Roemen said.

On Thursday, she and Kirk Brooker, last year’s committee chair, were touching up floats at the Christmas on the River warehouse. Each of the existing floats requires some degree of attention and touch-up work. Additionally, the committee hopes to unveil a new float this year. However, that process has been hindered by an absence of manpower.

“We would like to (unveil the new float). We really would like to,” Roemen said. “We want it out there. We really do. But it takes so much work. We’re getting down to the wire here.”

In 2008, the committee was able to roll out a collection of new floats. Brooker attributed that accomplishment to the rich volunteer base the festival boasted last year.

“(Volunteer numbers) were a little bit better. We had five new floats last year,” Brooker said. “Fortunately, we had a decent volunteer base last year.”

Roemen said there are a number of various volunteer opportunities available for those desiring to help.

“There’s other opportunities,” she said. “It takes volunteers from all over the community. It’s a total volunteer operation and everybody has something to offer.”

In addition to the painting and assembling of floats, volunteers are still needed to pull floats in the river parade. Demopolis High School JROTC instructor Mike Black is in charge of putting together that portion of the festivities.

“Mike is looking for people with pontoon boats,” Roemen said. “He says those are the best to pull the floats. We are looking for drivers and the boats. We’ll pay for their gas.”

Roemen, who has been involved in the behind-the-scenes work of Christmas on the River for some time, said the reward for the volunteer hours is rich and unchanging.

“The day (the floats) go out on the street and you see those kids, it’s why you do it,” Roemen said. “It brings so many people into our community.”

Individuals wishing to assist with floats should be at the Christmas on the River warehouse on Tuesday evenings between 6 and 9. Those seeking to offer up the use of a pontoon boat for the river parade should contact Pat Brady at the Demopolis Area Chamber of Commerce.