Alabaster changes Christmas parade venue

Published 10:48 am Monday, October 3, 2011

By NEAL WAGNER / City Editor

Alabaster officials said safety and convenience played major roles in the city’s recent decision to move the annual Alabaster Christmas parade from U.S. 31 to the Colonial Promenade shopping center.

The Alabaster City Council and Mayor David Frings recently agreed to move the Christmas parade from U.S. 31 in old downtown Alabaster to the shopping center off Interstate 65. The parade will begin at 10 a.m. on Dec. 3, and will begin on Jimmy Gould Drive and run along Colonial Promenade Parkway around the shopping center, Frings said.

Frings said the city made the decision to move the parade after traffic on U.S. 31 became an issue during the past few years. In the past, Alabaster police blocked off one side of U.S. 31 for the parade, and routed north- and southbound traffic to the northbound side of the highway.

“It was getting more and more difficult with the traffic each year. It seemed like we always had some kind of accident each year,” Frings said, noting a few parade spectators’ toes have been run over by floats during the past few years.

“We’ve never had anything major happen, thank goodness, but I worry about someone stepping into the open lane of traffic,” Frings added. “The spectators are basically standing between the floats and two lanes of traffic.”

Frings also said moving the parade to the Promenade will help the city avoid uncontrollable interruptions, such as trains.

“The parade route also crossed over railroad tracks, and it always seemed like a train came through during the parade,” Frings added.

After speaking with the City Council, Frings approached Colonial Properties Trust employees and shopping center business owners and asked them about moving the parade.

“Everyone I talked to was in favor of it,” Frings said. “Hopefully, it will help those businesses out by having it there.”

Because the parade will be held during one of the Promenade’s busiest months of the year, police will keep access to the shopping center open during the parade. Frings also said some businesses may sell items such as hot chocolate and coffee.

“We’re excited about having it there this year,” Frings said. “We look forward to everyone coming out.”