Officials are urging people to keep in mind of traffic closures as the area prepares for tonight's 6:30 p.m. countywide Christmas parade in downtown Jasper, presented by the Chamber of Commerce of …
Officials are urging people to keep in mind of traffic closures as the area prepares for tonight's 6:30 p.m. countywide Christmas parade in downtown Jasper, presented by the Chamber of Commerce of Walker County.
The parade requires no fee to enter and is one of the largest holiday parades in the area.
Linda Lewis, the president of the chamber, which sponsors the parade, noted Santa Claus will be at the chamber at the Jasper Civic Center from 4-6 p.m. Children and parents can meet him for free, getting candy canes, having children sit on his lap and, using the parents’ cameras, having their photo taken with him. Santa will have to leave at 6 p.m. to get his place in the parade.
Lewis said the parade normally lines up at sites around Viking Drive, much like other parades in Jasper. More than 100 entries are set for the annual parade.
"If it is a float, the line up will begin at 4 o'clock behind T.R. Simmons (Elementary) School," Lewis said Monday. "And if it is anything besides a float, they are to go to old Walker High School parking lot."
She urged people to go with plenty of time so that they are not caught up in traffic problems.
With the large number of entries, she urged people to be considerate and patient with each other.
"Safety is always the number one concern," she said. "Listen to the volunteers and the police department." She also urged people to take alternate routes around downtown tonight if they are not part of the parade.
"We want everyone to be safe but to have a good time," she said.
Lewis encouraged merchants downtown to take advantage of the crowds by having special promotions and events during the time of the parade. "It is a good time to shop local and to shop with their Chamber Checks," she said.
Capt. Justin Tidwell of the Jasper Police Department said at 6:15 p.m. that Viking Drive, which turns later into 19th Street going west, will be closed to traffic on the westbound lane, although the other lane will continue to be open due to apartments in the area. That closing will be at 20th Avenue "at the top of the hill," he said.
Meanwhile, traffic will be blocked altogether in both lanes on 19th Street, from Sixth Avenue on the west side down to Highland Avenue at the old high school.
Tidwell said the parade will go west on Viking/19th from the old school parking lot at the bottom of the hill and north on Sixth Avenue, near Bare Bones Cargo. It will turn east on 18th Street and goes straight back to the old school.
All small children must be attended by an adult on a float. Abiding by a city ordinance, candy cannot be thrown from floats; adults will walk beside the floats and hand out candy to the children.
Parents are also asked to be mindful of their children, not let them run out into the street, and to follow orders from police officers, especially in staying on the sidewalks.
"Safety is always our number one priority. That's why we ask people to not throw candy. You can walk beside the float and hand it out," Lewis said. "We want everyone to have a good time, but we want everyone to be safe, too."
Santa Claus will be the grand marshal, and no duplicate Santas will be allowed on other floats. Also, no horses will be entered in the parade.
Awards will be given for first-, second-, third- and honorable mention for several categories, including Business, Children, Non-profit, Government and Antique Cars. Floats will be judged on creativity, originality and theme.
Lewis 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.