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Pell City Christmas Tree lighting will go forward despite pandemic

Pell City Christmas tree lighting 2019

The 2019 Pell City Christmas tree lighting ceremony was Friday, Dec. 6. In the photo, Tristan Watson gets a close look at the lights on the tree. The 2020 event is set for Friday, Dec. 4.

PELL CITY -- The Heart of Pell City recently held a meeting to discuss the plan for this year's Christmas tree lighting Dec. 4.

The Heart of Pell City, according to its Facebook page, is a group of positive-spirited people who love Pell City and want to renew, revitalize and re-energize the municipality’s historic downtown.

Gail Benefield, who chairs the event planning each year, presented the plan but admitted this year’s event faces some unique challenges due to the pandemic.

“We are going to have this Christmas tree lighting amidst a lot of adversity,” Benefield said, adding many other cities have already canceled their Christmas programs. 

To deal with these challenges, Benefield said the event may have to fit whatever restrictions are in place at the time due to the pandemic. 

“It's going to take place,” she said. “It may be nothing but turning the lights on, it may be nothing but a few people having a program for people at home, but that's what our plans are.”

Benefield said the event will be streamed on social media regardless of the final plans.

Urianah Glidewell, who serves as president of the Heart of Pell City and executive director for the Pell City Chamber of Commerce, said the Chamber is helping with the planning for the event due to the canceling of the Hometown Block Party.

As a part of this, Chamber Vice President Denise Olivastri said she is working on expanding offerings for children, like balloons, glitter tattoos and giant bubble blowing. 

Olivastri also said all seating at the event will be socially distanced.

The final person to present was Carlos Otalora, who owns Total Entertainment out of Birmingham. 

Otalora’s company provides the snow machine used during the city’s tree lighting festivities each year, but he attended the meeting to present several other items Total Entertainment could provide. These included a boothless photo booth and a giant snow globe that can be used for pictures. 

Otalora said these would be overseen by his staff and follow safety guidelines like requiring masks inside the snow globe and regular sanitizing of all of their equipment. 

Safety was a major topic of the meeting, with Benefield citing masks and social distancing as being required unless guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Gov. Kay Ivey change from what they are now. 

Glidewell agreed that guidelines will dictate several decisions the Heart of the Pell City makes about the event. 

“We don't know what the guidelines are going to be,” Glidewell said, but she added Benefield has been very thorough in her planning.


Taylor Mitchell, Daily Home reporter covering Pell City.