Last year, when the first city-wide Christmas celebration was an overwhelming success, organizers set out to build on the momentum. After months of planning, A Pelham Hometown Christmas, which includes a parade, tree lighting, and family fun, is set for Saturday, December 10, 2022, at Pelham Civic Complex and Ice Arena.
The parade is organized by Pelham Strong, a 501(c) (3) organization founded by Pelham City Council Member Rick Wash and his friend, Chad Leverett. “When Chad and I started Pelham Strong, we knew that we wanted its focus to always be on our community, families, and kids. Having the opportunity to partner with the City of Pelham for the very first Christmas parade was just the start of many great things to come.” He said plans are in the works for events throughout the year, including a Community Walk for Christ around Easter, and possibly a bicycle rodeo for children this summer. “I think it’s important for everyone to realize that every donation made, and every penny raised by Pelham Strong is used to better our community. Volunteers give of their time to coordinate these events.”
A Toy Drive will be held in conjunction with this year’s festivities, and drop-off locations are ready to accept your new, unwrapped toys. A list of these locations can be found below. Bins will also be available at the Pelham Civic Complex on the evening of the parade for your convenience. “The unique aspect of this toy drive is that Pelham businesses and residents will be donating toys that will benefit families in Pelham and local surrounding areas. You don’t have to worry about your gifts going off to some other state,” stated Pelham Strong’s Chad Leverett.
Leverett said he's excited about a bigger parade and new activities. The parade theme is “Christmas Movies”. "We increased the parade size from 40 floats to 55 this year. We are adding a social media photo booth, as well as Sponsor Row that will open at 3:30 pm with kids' activities." He encouraged families to make a night of the event. “We recommend parking in the main lot at the Civic Complex, where a hired crew will be on hand to help with logistics,” stated Leverett. “That way families can enjoy the pre-parade festivities on Sponsor Row, or buy something to eat from the Civic Complex concession stands. If you plan to watch the parade on Highway 119, we encourage you to patronize your favorite restaurant in that area and wait for the parade to come by around 5:15 or 5:30 pm. Just remember, you will be in that location for a while until the Pelham Police Department can open Highway 119 after the parade. You can always cross over to the Civic Complex after the parade for the tree lighting and free activities.” Other parking areas to consider are the lot near the shopping center with 24e, the area behind Purple Onion, and the area near Metro Storage.
Leverett said there's no other single city-sponsored event in Pelham that draws such as crowd as A Pelham Hometown Christmas. "We estimate approximately 7,000 to 10,000 people were along the parade route last year." The parade begins at the Pelham Civic Complex and Ice Arena and will proceed to Highway 31 North, then Highway 119. It will turn onto State Park Road before ending at Amphitheater Road. Leverett shared some insider tips for parade-goers. “What I call a sweet spot to watch the parade is on State Park Road. It’s less crowded there. Last year, there was hardly anyone along that roadway. Keep in mind, the floats may be out of candy by that point in the parade, but if you’re looking for less congestion, this is your spot.”
After the parade, at approximately 6:30 pm, a short tree-lighting ceremony will be held at the Pelham Civic Complex and Ice Arena. At 6:45 pm, families will have a chance to enjoy free ice skating inside the arena, free cookies, cider, and hot chocolate, the distribution of the annual Pelham Christmas ornament, and photos with Santa.
The Pelham High School broadcast students will be streaming the parade live, and a radio broadcast will take place on 93.3 The River.
Chad Leverett said last year’s event has been described as “magical”, and he anticipated this year’s event would be no different. “It’s like the whole world and all its problems stop for a few hours and everyone can just be a kid. You don’t have to worry about bills, food, and money problems; just enjoy the lights, candy, and joy. It’s a time when the community comes together as one body united to celebrate Christmas. In the world we live in today, it’s much needed.”
Pelham Strong would like to thank the City of Pelham, the Pelham Strong Advisory Board, the sponsors, and the volunteers for their support of A Pelham Hometown Christmas.
Toy Drive Drop-Off Locations:
- Three M Karts & Mowers
- A Birthday Place
- Gifted – Handmade Gifts and More
- Half Shell Oyster House, Pelham
- Pelham Church of God
- Pelham Civic Complex & Ice Arena
- Pelham Fire Department, Stations 1, 2, 3, 4, & 5
- Pelham Parks & Recreation
- Pelham Police Department
- Pelham Public Library
- Pelham Racquet Club
- Pelham Senior Center
- Shelby Pediatric Dentistry