Mayor William E. “Bill” Cooper said the problems facing the community and the nation in 2020 may try to steal Christmas or dampen our Christmas spirit.
“But we won’t let the Grinch or anything else steal Christmas in the City of Enterprise,” said Cooper. Like the people of “Whoville” in the classic Christmas tale, we will celebrate.”
Cooper said he and city leaders want to try to help brighten the Christmas season for local residents with several joyful events to offer a respite from a difficult year.
“With the COVID-19 pandemic continuing to plague our country and our community, we all are faced with difficult decisions and inconveniences,” said the mayor, who himself has battled COVID and a subsequent illness in recent months.
“Of course, we hope that everyone will make wise choices to best protect their own health and the health of those around them. We encourage everyone to do only what they feel is safe and comfortable.”
But for those who want to participate in some of the traditional activities, the city is planning to host the Annual Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony Thursday, Dec. 3, at 6 p.m. in front of city hall. In case of rainy weather, the ceremony will be shifted to Tuesday, Dec. 8, at 6 p.m.
“The ceremony is always lots of fun. Everyone enjoys hearing a great message about “The Reason for the Season” and singing along with Christmas carols and hymns,” said Kay Kirkland, the city’s Special Projects Coordinator.
This year, the special message will be delivered by Pastor Olivia Poole of St. Luke United Methodist Church. Marge Simmons and an ensemble of singers from Johns Chapel AME Church will be performing holiday selections. Following a favorite tradition, Simmons will also be leading the congregational singing.
“We also have a very special hostess of ceremonies this year—an Enterprise High School graduate and former Miss Enterprise, Stefanie Hicks East,” Kirkland said. “Stefanie currently teaches broadcast journalism at Troy University, where she shares her talents and skill that brought her success as news anchors at Dothan and Montgomery TV stations.”
Kirkland said that the evening promises some special surprises as well, including familiar visitors that only seem to stir during this time of year. “You never know ‘WHO’ might show up to bring Christmas cheer, or who might drop to say ‘Ho, Ho Ho!’”
Cooper said the city staff has been working hard to get ready for this event, to keep the tradition alive.
“However, we do want to stress the need to take the recommended safety precautions. We ask that everyone wear masks and try to keep your distance from others not in your household or circle of regular interaction. We can still talk, share laughter and have a great time, but let’s just do it as safely as possible.”
The seating will be set up for social distancing. Hand sanitizer stations will also be set up as well.
“The weather is expected to be chilly, so it will be a great time to bundle up in your favorite winter clothes, with gloves and scarves to help keep you warm and perhaps help to protect you as well,” the mayor said.
The highlight of the evening will be the lighting of the 30-foot tall Christmas Tree on the front lawn at city hall. The tree, which is 17 feet in diameter at the base, is decorated with a three-foot star tree topper and more than 500 ornaments, plus more than 10,000 lights that will shine as a symbol of the city’s holiday spirit.
“It is indeed a beautiful tree, and we can’t wait to light it up, and in doing so, light up our city with the joy of Christmas,” Mayor Cooper said.
City personnel from the Engineering Department and Parks and Recreation, along with volunteers from the Downtown Business Association have spruced up the city with decorations ranging from giant reindeer and Nativity scenes to lighted Christmas wreaths on the vintage light poles on Main Street.
Christmas at the Farmers Market
The sixth annual “Christmas at the Farmers Market” will be from 7 a.m. until noon Saturday, Dec. 5, at the market, where those attending will be able to buy seasonal produce like turnip greens and collards or browse through arts and crafts booths looking for Christmas gifts.
Santa Claus will be arriving about 9 a.m.
“Because of the COVID health crisis, Santa won’t be able to have children sit on his lap this year, but they can still speak to him from a distance and have a photo taken with him,” Kirkland said. “They can also write their wishes on a list and place it in a box for him to look at later.”
As is tradition, children will be able to show off their artistic talents by painting or decorating Christmas ornaments, a free activity that’s fun for the whole family. They will be able to choose their own ornament and colors.
Tables will be set up inside the market conference room so everyone will be warm. Family groups are asked to wear masks and social distance. As much seating as possible will be set up inside. Some seating may be available outside, depending on temperatures.
Kirkland reminded that a number of vendors with seasonal produce, including fresh greens, homemade jams and jellies and a variety of unique craft items will be available so that shoppers can get much of their Christmas shopping completed.
If they have some items still to cross off their gift-buying list, however, Christmas at the Market participants can move on to downtown Enterprise for all of the “Whoville” activities organized by Main Street Enterprise, in conjunction with contributing businesses downtown, business sponsors and volunteers.
This is the third year downtown has been transformed into “Whoville,” with decorative Who characters displayed in unique scenes throughout downtown, in flower beds, on the corners, in the windows and even around the Boll Weevil Monument. You can even meet live Who characters walking along the streets every weekend in December.
“Here in Enterprise, we have plenty of opportunities for you to have a wonderful holiday,” Cooper said. “Merry Christmas everyone.”
Some of the events will be broadcast live on Facebook for the convenience of those who don’t want to get out.