Columbiana’s 2011 Christmas parade won’t compete with SEC football

By BRAD GASKINS / Staff Writer

COLUMBIANA – The city’s Christmas parade or the Southeastern Conference’s football championship game?

For the last several years, the majority of local residents have chosen the latter.

Turnout for Columbiana’s annual parade – held the same day the SEC crowns its champion – has been much lower than city officials and local merchants would like.

This year’s parade is tentatively scheduled for Thursday, Dec. 1 at 7 p.m. to avoid a time conflict with the game. Columbiana’s city council reached that consensus after seven minutes of discussion at its Feb. 1 meeting.

“What we’re trying to do is get away from that SEC championship game, but still have it in that same time frame as the tour of homes,” Councilman Stancil Handley said at the meeting.

The Columbiana Tour of Homes is held the first Saturday in December. The parade is usually held later that day. So is the SEC championship game.

For the last three years, either Alabama or Auburn played for conference titles at the same time the parade made its way down Main Street.

Handley joked that SEC Commissioner Mike Slive intentionally set afternoon kickoff times to conflict with the parade.

Councilwoman Ouida Mayfield brought the timing issue up for discussion.

Moving the parade to Saturday morning, before the tour of homes, was an option, she said. However, there were concerns about having time to decorate floats early in the morning. Plus, Christmas lights look better when it’s dark outside.

Mayfield said having the parade during the week could cause issues for people just getting off work. They wouldn’t have time to make the parade. A 7 o’clock start would allow people time to get there after work, and allow time for rush hour traffic to clear.

Either way, Mayor Allan Lowe said, Columbiana is a great backdrop for a nighttime Christmas parade.

“We are fortunate to have a downtown Main Street that does look good when you turn the lights on,” Lowe said.