Chamber parade delayed until Thursday

By ED HOWELL, Daily Mountain Eagle
Posted 12/2/17

The Chamber of Commerce of Walker County announced Friday afternoon that it is postponing its annual Christmas parade from Tuesday to Thursday due to rain chances.

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Chamber parade delayed until Thursday

Posted

The Chamber of Commerce of Walker County announced Friday afternoon that it is postponing its annual Christmas parade from Tuesday to Thursday due to rain chances.

Linda Lewis, executive director for the chamber, made the decision after Regina Myers, the coordinator for the Walker County Emergency Management Agency, contacted the National Weather Service in Birmingham Friday afternoon on behalf of Lewis. Myers also recommended the postponement after that discussion, Lewis said.

A forecast up on the National Weather Service website for Jasper that afternoon showed rain chances at 80 percent Tuesday and 60 percent Tuesday night.

“The timeline on Tuesday will not be good for the parade,” Lewis said by phone.

A representative of the weather agency told Myers that rain chances were actually expected to increase in time on Tuesday evening. That raises safety issues, Lewis said.

Lewis said, “With an 80 percent chance of rain, we want to keep all the children safe. People also put a lot of time and energy into those floats.” 

She said she did not want any of the floats to be harmed by the weather, especially as they might be reused in other municipal parades, which the chamber encourages.

Lewis said all the other times and plans will remain in effect.

“Everything will be the same. It’s just the day,” she said.

She also urged everyone to bundle up for the Thursday parade, as temperature should drop in the area by then.

The high for Thursday is only forecast to reach 49 or 50, with lows that night in the high 20s, based of different available forecasts. No rain is expected Thursday.

The good byproduct of the delay is that cold weather encourages more thoughts of Christmas, and also traditionally results in more holiday shopping in stores, she said.

The parade is expected to possible set a record for participants, reaching more than 100 entries. All local junior or high school bands are encouraged to participate in the countywide parade in Jasper. Santa Claus will not only be in the parade, but will be at the chamber offices from 4 until 6 p.m. on Thursday, meeting children for free.

“All floats will line up behind T.R. Simmons (Elementary) School,” she said Wednesday. “That will become a one-way street. All other vehicles, whether it is antique cars, golf cars, and such will go to the old Walker High School parking lot. Anyone who needs to park their cars to let off children or anything like that which will be on the float needs to go to the bottom (front) parking lot of T.R. Simmons and drop off your children, because cars will not be allowed in the back of T.R. Simmons. That is floats only.

“I ask all the people who are entering floats to be courteous of T.R. Simmons,” she said. “We want all the children to be out of school and gone before the floats start lining up, because you still have school traffic, too. As long as that school traffic is out of the way and gone, floats can start lining up.” 

Floats will need to go east on 20th Street East as a one-way street to get to T.R. Simmons, she said. They will head in a eastward, counterclockwise direction behind the school to get back onto Viking Drive, where the parade will then turn west toward downtown. (There Viking Drive becomes 19th Street.) The parade will be pausing briefly at the Jasper Civic Center and at the courthouse square. Then the parade will turn right onto Sixth Avenue onto 18th Street, travelling back to the old Walker High School parking lot.

Although a final time is not expected to be decided on until perhaps Monday, Jasper Police Department will close off Viking Drive for the parade, possibly at 5:30 p.m. or 6 p.m. at the top of the hill near the new high school complex. “With over 100 entries, we’re going to have to start lining them up on Viking to allow more room behind T.R. Simmons,” she said.

Lewis emphasized for parents to watch their children and not let them venture into the street, as well as paying heed to police. She asked people to stay on the sidewalks and not to venture out into the road. All small children must be attended by an adult on a float.

Participants are asked not to throw candy, but to instead walk beside the parade and hand it out, she said. “That way (the children) won’t venture out in the road,” she said.

Awards will be given for first-, second- and third-place and honorable mention for several categories, including Business, Children, Non-profit, Government and Antique Cars. Floats will be judged on creativity, originality and theme.

The Daily Mountain Eagle will provide a live feed of the parade on its Facebook page, while other internet feeds are also expected to take place.

She also encouraged anyone with any questions to call the chamber at 205-384-4571 or come by the chamber office at the Jasper Civic Center. Lewis’ email address is linda@walkerchamber.us.