By Morgan Bryce
Hundreds of people are expected to line the streets of downtown Opelika Dec. 1 for the Opelika Chamber of Commerce’s annual Christmas Parade, which begins at 10 a.m.
More than 70 entries from local businesses, civic organizations and organizations will participate, along with marching bands from area high schools and Santa and his helpers. Members of the Opelika Dixie Youth team that went to the Dixie Boys World Series in August will serve as the parade’s grand marshals.
Controversy surrounded the fate of the decades-old tradition in May, as the Chamber issued a statement that it would scrap the parade and opt for a tree-lighting ceremony instead. Met with public outcry on social media, the organization reversed its decision, citing overall increased parade participation and attendance as the primary means for it to continue.
“Many people were not happy with the lack of (handcrafted floats) and just seeing vehicles carrying children. Our wish was to reach at least 25-30 percent handcrafted (floats in the parade) and we took steps to try to improve that number,” said Chamber President Pam Powers-Smith. “Our other major concern was the lack of spectators … many of the people that spoke out on social media in June admitted that they had not attended the parade in several years but committed to doing so this year. So we’ll cross our fingers.”
Powers-Smith added that she believes the parade or other future events her organization might curate lend well to the city’s long list of holiday celebrations.
“For many years the parade was the kickoff to the season, but now that our city has so many great events, we feel that there are other November events to get people in the spirit even before that. So they can just add the parade to their list of holiday activities,” Powers-Smith said.
See the adjacent/following page for a full map of the parade route. For more information, call 334-745-4861 or visit www.opelikachamber.com.