Annual Christmas Parade to be held in December
By Morgan Bryce
Following a scheduled board meeting this morning, Opelika Chamber of Commerce President Pam Powers-Smith announced that they have reversed their decision to cancel the Christmas parade and will hold the event as planned in December.
A press release from the organization May 30 stated that they had chosen to pursue a new direction, a Christmas tree lighting ceremony instead of the parade, which Powers-Smith said has seen a steady decline in attendance and float participation the last five years.
Despite large public outcry on social media regarding the Chamber’s decision, Powers-Smith said her office has fielded few phone calls, visits or emails about the parade’s planned cancellation.
An event that would have included caroling and dance performances from area students, Courthouse Square “Wonderland,” hand-constructed village and more, the ceremony is still an idea that will be explored by the Chamber in the future, according to Powers-Smith.
“(Hosting) both events is not an option. We are a nonprofit staff (with) four people,” Powers-Smith said. “The money and time to make both these events happen is simply not a discussion in the realm of reality. I’m saddened that people wouldn’t even give the new event a chance, but we’ll see what happens after this year.”
Powers-Smith said turnout and participation in this year’s parade will be key for its survival. She added that the event is designed to appeal to all ages, and that the best ways for people to keep the tradition alive are to invite friends and family to attend, as well as post photos from the parade and promote it via social media.
“We just don’t want a bad parade for everybody. Opelika deserves so much more than that,” Powers-Smith said. “They deserve a great event that makes them happy and brings the community together and I don’t want them to ever be disappointed in an event that is presented to them.”
Mayor Gary Fuller released a statement Tuesday expressing his support for the Chamber’s decision.
“As mayor, I support the Opelika Chamber in the decision to give the parade another chance. It’s now up to our community to make it one to remember,” Fuller said. “I encourage all citizens to participate by designing a float, bringing your friends and family or helping the chamber coordinate the event. Let’s come together put on the best Christmas show yet.”
Powers-Smith said she personally believes the parade will continue if the community does its part.
“Although 60 percent of the cities in the country are eliminating their parades, we’ll give this another opportunity to beat those odds. And I truly think we can if everyone comes together,” Powers-Smith said. “We’re going to be releasing information on ways people can help in the coming weeks so be on the look out.”
For more information or updates, visit www.opelikachamber.com or follow the organization on social media.