Venue change ‘positive’ for Calera Christmas events

By SCOTT MIMS / Staff Writer 

CALERA — The weather was “phenomenal” and the change of venue to Calera’s Courtyard and historic Main Street district was “a positive” for the city’s Christmas Village and Craft Fair and parade that followed on Saturday, Dec. 5.

Main Street Director Jackie Batson estimated that easily 2,000 people attended the parade, while the vendors at the Christmas Village and Craft Fair enjoyed a steady flow of attendees and were reportedly pleased with the turnout.

“It went so well. Everybody had a wonderful time. We had a huge crowd. I really even believe we had more people this year than ever,” she said.

The developing Calera Courtyard, currently a gravel lot behind the businesses along U.S. 31 and Alabama 25, was the focal point of the event leading up to the parade, and the closing of 17th Avenue allowed people to freely walk from nearby businesses to the area for shopping, holiday refreshments and a chance for the kids to see jolly old Santa Claus—or that green guy known as the Grinch—for a socially-distanced photo op.

“It’s a little bit safer to get to, in my opinion,” Batson said. “Everyone enjoyed being able to see Santa and the Grinch as well, and the Calera Dance Academy. It was just perfect. I couldn’t have asked for a better day.”

People gathered in the Courtyard following the parade for a concert with country rock band Deputy 5. A portable stage was set up behind the shops, within eyesight of a permanent stage which is currently under construction behind the future location of Big Lupo Pizza Café.

For Batson, it was an opportunity for people to get familiar with the area, which city leaders see as a venue for future concerts and similar events.

“That was so fun,” she said. “It was very cold by 7 p.m., plus, that was the time of the Alabama LSU game, but people there had a great time. I think that proved to us that we can have live events like that, large-scale events and we have plenty of room.”

The space seemed to allow for a more comfortable event with COVID-19 remaining a major public health issue throughout the holiday season. Batson said people are anxious to find things to do that are safe for families to enjoy.

She said the success of Saturday’s event was “very encouraging” in terms of the future.

“We very much want to see the Calera Courtyard become like a festival center,” she said. “We want people shopping our downtown merchants, and being able to come out and have our events back there is a great opportunity for our community to enjoy downtown Calera.”