Christmas comes to Old Mill Square Park

By SCOTT MIMS / Staff Writer 

COLUMBIANA — Residents of Columbiana gathered at Old Mill Square Park Friday night, Dec. 4 to celebrate Christmas at the new venue. Greeting everyone was the city’s newly planted live Christmas tree, which is intended to become a permanent fixture of the community.

Festivities kicked off with entertainment from local singers and dancers at the OMSP amphitheater, followed by the parade downtown and ending with the Christmas tree lighting back at the park.

Mayor David Mitchell said that while most of the feedback was positive, he hopes to make the event bigger and better as COVID-19—hopefully—diminishes and more activities become possible in the future.

“We pulled all that stuff together on a very short notice, and (there were) a lot of lessons learned,” Mitchell said, noting that he wants to improve the sound and lighting for the park’s amphitheater. “I thought it went very well, but next time we hope to do better.”

Other ideas he shared that could not be accomplished this year due to COVID-19 include full church choir performances and a live nativity scene. Mitchell also wants to add signage along Main Street in the coming years to direct people to Old Mill Square Park after the parade, to enjoy the Christmas tree lighting.

The lighting was still well-attended, and Mitchell said people enjoyed purchasing food from food trucks and eating dinner at the tables near the fountain.

“There were lots of people there. It was nice to have the tree lighting in the park. I think everybody enjoyed that. It really is a beautiful place,” he said.

City leaders made the decision in mid-November to find a live Christmas tree to plant at the park. They located a Birmingham vendor who arranged to have the spruce tree shipped from North Carolina to Columbiana.

Event coordinator Ali Payne said the tree will require consistent care, especially in the summer, but she believes the results will be worth the effort.

Payne reported that Columbiana’s streets were full for the parade, but she had no way of gauging the total attendance. She said moving the parade from Thursday night to Friday night seemed to positively impact attendance.

“It was really fun, it was nice and cold, which is what a Christmas parade should feel like,” she said.

Payne recognized Dream Makers Dancers, Micah Swain and Gracie Nicewonder for performing at the amphitheater.

“With the amphitheater stage, it felt like more of a recital for the kids so that was pretty neat,” she said.