Pictured above from left to right, Etowah C.A.R.E.S. members Joe Taylor, Elizabeth Haney, Matt Skelton, Kay Moore, John Moore, Tena King, Jami Grimes and Christi Robinson welcome visitors to downtown Gadsden on December 5.
By Katie Bohannon, News Editor
Etowah C.A.R.E.S. welcomed the public to Santa’s Sidewalk Saturday on December 5, inviting residents to enjoy the holidays without compromising their health. From 2 p.m. to 8 p.m., attendants browsed the entertainment district of downtown Gadsden, soaking in the shops, restaurants and Christmas cheer their community offers.
A collaborative effort amongst Etowah C.A.R.E.S. members sparked the free event, inspired to provide the community with a pleasant and safe day enriched with fun. The event encouraged shopping and dining in a responsible manner, following the rules implemented by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention pertaining to social distancing and face coverings. If attendants did not arrive with their own personal masks, Etowah C.A.R.E.S. members (who marshaled the event) provided them.
A hot chocolate station offered guests with free cups of warm and delicious cocoa throughout the event. Santa Claus, escorting by the City of Gadsden Fire Department, circled Broad Street before retiring to a social-distanced section of downtown where queue barriers allowed interaction at a safe distance.
Several performances dawned the day, from Emma Sansom Middle School and Gadsden Middle School choral groups singing carols to local musician Dusty Smith, who performed in Blackstone Pub & Eatery’s courtyard for audiences. Gadsden Middle Dazzlers entertained visitors during the afternoon, while a group of local cyclists rode through downtown on decorated bicycles to culminate the evening.
“I hope [attendants] have a good time and this can be something that they look forward to,” said recently appointed Etowah C.A.R.E.S. Revitalization Chair Christi Robinson, who assisted with the event’s coordination. “I just love to interact with people. I love partnerships and camaraderie – it’s just one of my favorite things. And I love doing stuff like this.”
With the recent cancellation of several city events due to COVID-19, Etowah C.A.R.E.S. introduced Santa’s Sidewalk Saturday with the hope of extending support to local merchants and boosting business downtown. This event emerges as a representation of the nonprofit’s mission, which seeks to promote and advance policies and practices consistent with economic development, revitalization and education expansion and excellence.
“I hope that we’re going to give some holiday cheer [through the event],” said Etowah C.A.R.E.S. Vice President John Moore. “Right now, during COVID, we’re able to at least spread some type of holiday cheer and give people something to come out and do. With the way things are, things have kind of slowed down and this gives people the opportunity to get out and do something. This is a great opportunity to come out and support your local shops, your local eateries and enjoy the holidays and the town.”