Santa and Mrs. Claus at Christmas on the Square

Santa and Mrs. Claus were just part of a good-sized crowd that showed up Friday for opening night of Christmas on the Square 2018.

TALLADEGA -- Talladega’s third annual Christmas on the Square got off to a strong start Friday evening in spite of lousy weather and a scheduling snafu.

In spite of the relatively cold temperatures and intermittent rain and wind, a healthy crowd came out to the Courthouse Square to witness the tree-lighting ceremony, sing Christmas carols and enjoy hot chocolate before going to a free showing of “The Polar Express” at The Ritz Theatre.

Several children took to the ice rink next to the courthouse, then went and had their pictures taken with Santa and Mrs. Claus in The Ritz lobby.

The Talladega College choir was scheduled to perform, but most of its members had already left for Christmas break by the time Friday’s events were set to begin. A handful of choir members, the conductor and some volunteers led the crowd in singing “Silent Night,” “Joy To The World” and “Jingle Bells.”

Before the tree-lighting, City Manager Beth Cheeks said, “Christmas on the Square started three years ago to bring back the old-fashioned downtown celebration, so we could all enjoy colorful, festive Christmas displays in the large windows of these beautiful buildings (and) to bring the citizens of Talladega together to enjoy the season in a central location and to have activities for the children and fun for the adults. And to have a great place to take all sorts of selfies, too.

“Now, the weather may not be ideal this weekend, and because it was just plain impossible to reschedule, the city of Talladega has a plan to move forward, because we are not quitters.”

Assuming the rain continues Saturday or Sunday, as expected, Santa’s Workshop and all other free children’s activities will be moved indoors to the Kenwin Waldrup Building next to The Ritz Theatre, while Elsa, Anna and Olaf from the Disney film “Frozen” will be on the other side in the Otts Building from 1 to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

The vendors and food trucks will be still be set up all around the Square both days.

Christmas on the Square hours will be from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday from to noon to 6 p.m.

Cheeks thanked all of the event’s sponsors, who made all of the weekend’s special events possible. These include Georgia-Pacific, The Daily Home, Civilian Marksmanship Program, First Bank of Alabama, Alabama Institute for Deaf and Blind, Talladega Superspeedway, InSite Engineering, Raymond James Financial, Carr Riggs and Ingram, WastePro, Brookwood Baptist Health Center/Citizens Baptist Medical Center, Waites Construction, Neel Schaffer, R.K. Allen, Mainstreet Family Urgent Care, Talladega Castings, Thornton Carpenter O’Brien Lazenby and Lawrence, America’s First Federal Credit Union and Walmart.

Friday’s showing of “The Polar Express” was sponsored by FIRST Family Services. Talladega City Councilman David Street was dressed as a conductor and was punching tickets on the way into the theatre.

“I want to thank all the city employees for their hard work to put this together,” Cheeks said. “Thank you to all the vendors who will be here tomorrow and Sunday, come rain or come shine, so, I can personally finish my Christmas shopping with them.”