CULLMAN - On Friday evening, thousands of Cullman area residents lined downtown streets for the city's annual Christmas parade, then filled the stretch from Depot Park to the Festhalle to celebrate the season in style. More than 40 floats and vehicles took part in the parade, and the Grand Marshal was none other than Santa himself, who stopped his sleigh at the park to greet children who wanted their pictures made with him. Games and inflatables filled the parking lot by the Festhalle, a carriage took folks on rides and children visited a petting zoo. Depot Park was flooded with lights, especially after the lighting of the city's 32-foot Christmas tree.
A driving force behind the celebration is Cullman City Parks and Recreation's Waid Harbison, who is also chairman of the Christmas in Cullman board. He said that the event's crowd could reach 5,000 on a cool but clear evening.
"This is a great community event," he said. "We love for people to come out. We have a lot of festivals throughout the year, and this is probably one of our two or three biggest festivals we have in Cullman."
With celebrations like Oktoberfest, the Strawberry Festival, Farm Y'all and Peinhardt Farm Day, Cullman is well-known for community events. This is the only festival that takes place during the winter months, though, making it something special.
Harbison stated, "We're in event season--go, go, go--from April till about September, then we wrap up; so there's not a big winter festival that goes on. So, the big to-do right now is Christmas in Cullman."
And it's not just a town festival. Harbison explains that the event is marketed all over north Alabama, bringing visitors and money to the area: "We bring in a lot of people from out of town; we do a lot of marketing for this in the Birmingham and Huntsville area. We have a lot of people come from out of town; they come into Cullman, and that's good for the businesses. A lot of them are staying open late for the parade, so it benefits the businesses. But more importantly, it's just always good when you can bring people into the community to see it."
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