Demopolis hosts Christmas on the River

By By Penny Randall / staff writer
Dec. 5, 2003
Christmas on the River has grown from a river parade of "floats that really float" in the small West Alabama city of Demopolis to a week of activities that involves the entire community.
The all-volunteer event in the city of 8,000 has attracted up to 40,000 visitors on the final day, which includes two parades, the 5K Jingle Bell Run, an afternoon movie at the Marengo Theater and the Fair in the Square.
On crisp fall days, people's thoughts turn toward the holiday season and Demopolis officials think nothing says Christmas quite like the town's Christmas on the River celebration.
For more than 30 years, Demopolis has entertained thousands of people during the annual event.
The crowning of Miss Christmas on the River, traditionally the first official event of the annual festival, took place in October. Elyse Findley of Cuba, Ala., was crowned the winner from a field of more than 30 contestants.
Findley is the daughter of Shelly Stapp Findley of Cuba and Brian and Christina Findley of Nashville. Findley is the granddaughter of Bonnie and L.D. Stapp of Siloam, Ala., and John and Lois Findley of West Lafayette, Ind. She is the great-granddaughter of Virginia Harris of Meridian.
A junior at Sumter Academy, Findley has made several television appearances to promote Christmas on the River and has appeared in several parades including the homecoming parade at the University of West Alabama.
Saturday's activities begin early at 8 a.m. with live entertainment in downtown Demopolis followed at 11:30 a.m. by the Children's Day Parade. Judging for Alabama State Championship Barbecue Cook-off at City Landing is from noon to 4 p.m. and don't forget the free showing of "Lady and the Tramp" at the Marengo Theatre in downtown Demopolis.
But most people look forward to the traditional Christmas river parade on the Tombigbee River from 6:30 p.m.-8:30 p.m., featuring more than 20 lighted floats against the backdrop of a fireworks display.
Christmas on the River concludes with a dance from 8:30 p.m. to midnight featuring "Hot Sauce Entertainment" at Demopolis Civic Center. For more information, call the Demopolis Area Chamber of Commerce at (334) 289-0270.