Christmas event brings visitors to downtown Anniston
by Patrick McCreless
Dec 02, 2012 | 4705 views |  0 comments | 11 11 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Aubrey Neese, 10 weeks old, gets a kiss from Santa while being held at the Rabbit Hutch in Anniston. (Anniston Star photo by Stephen Gross)
Aubrey Neese, 10 weeks old, gets a kiss from Santa while being held at the Rabbit Hutch in Anniston. (Anniston Star photo by Stephen Gross)
Mikayla Oliver dipped a pine cone in peanut butter Saturday before rolling it in a box of birdseed. The four-year-old then hung the newly made ornament on the city Christmas tree in downtown Anniston.

Mikayla appeared to enjoy the act of making an ornament for all to see. But she also appeared to enjoy playing with the birdseed.

The child was one of several who showed up Saturday to decorate the city Christmas tree with handmade ornaments. It was a part of Spirit of Anniston’s month-long Christmas event to get residents in the holiday spirit and attract new customers to downtown businesses. The Spirit of Anniston is a city-supported board that focuses on the development and promotion of the city’s historic downtown area.

Mikayla’s mother, Kaley Oliver, said she was glad Spirit of Anniston was hosting a community Christmas event.

“I think it’s great,” Oliver said. “Community involvement is always a wonderful thing.”

Jeanine Roberson brought her 7-year-old daughter, Shareatha Spell, to make some ornaments as well.

“She liked it,” Roberson said. “She wanted to keep on doing it, but her father said it was time to leave.”

Like Oliver, Roberson was pleased to see family-oriented activities in downtown Anniston.

“This is great what they’re doing — they need to do more,” Roberson said.

Along with decoration-making for the tree, which was lit up for the first time Saturday evening, Santa Claus was on hand at the Rabbit Hutch on Noble Street to take pictures with children. Around noon Saturday when he first arrived, Santa already had his hands full with a newborn baby who was a little grumpy about getting his picture taken. Meanwhile, several customers browsed through the Rabbit Hutch’s array of wares. In addition, businesses on Noble Street had red stars on their front doors, signifying they were locations where customers could register for a holiday basket giveaway on Dec. 17.

Charity Duncan with Spirit of Anniston, who helped keep Saturday’s activities running smoothly, said the goals of the downtown Christmas events were to entertain residents and let them know what local businesses had to offer.

“We’re trying to get downtown Anniston in the Christmas spirit and get people to shop and visit with some of our fabulous merchants,” Duncan said. “We have some great merchants downtown.”

For Duncan, who has been with Spirit of Anniston for five years, helping the city’s downtown is an important endeavor. Anniston’s downtown district has seen better Christmases. Where once was a vibrant shopping area with department stores galore are now more closed and vacant buildings than open businesses.

“I’m just trying to support historic downtown Anniston and bring it back to life,” Duncan said.

Spirit of Anniston’s scheduled Christmas events will continue Dec. 8 with horse and carriage rides through downtown and another opportunity for photos with Santa. On Dec. 15, downtown visitors will be treated to an ice carver while pet owners can get photos of their animals with Santa. Food vendors and carolers will be on hand for all the events.

Staff writer Patrick McCreless: 256-235-3561. On Twitter @PMcCreless_Star.

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