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Crowds expected for homecoming events

Mayor Earl Johnson said Tuesday he hopes the crowd for the Absolutely Andalusia Homecoming 2010 events this week number in the thousands.

“With this being the first time, it’s hard to anticipate just how many people will visit Andalusia over the three to four day period,” Johnson said. “I think that – once it’s said and done – that number will be pretty significant.”

And with the increase in visitors one can expect an increase in sales tax collections.

“Those people are going to come to town and spend money while they’re here, which, aside from the homecoming and seeing everyone, is an added bonus to the event. People are going to eat here, shop here, buy gas and hopefully spend the night in one of our area hotels.”

Tomorrow will mark the start of the celebration with the 9 a.m. “All American Homecoming” parade at 9 a.m. Veterans will line up at 8:30 a.m. at Andalusia High School. The parade will begin there and travel Third Avenue onto East Three Notch Street, before ending at Veteran’s Memorial Park.

Following the parade, a ceremony and reception will be held at the Memorial Park. Activities also include a historical marker presentation, a reception, pictures with all participating veterans at Memorial Park and City Hall tours for everyone.

“A lot of times people give lip service about how appreciative they are for the service the veterans provided to our country,” Johnson said. “Thursday is a perfect opportunity for the community to show (veterans) how much they appreciate it. I hope our citizens and the community make the effort.”

City of Andalusia employee Perry Walker places a wreath at Veteran’s Memorial Park on Tuesday afternoon. | Stephanie Nelson/ Star News

There are a “multitude” of events happening throughout the weekend such as walking tours, art shows and a musical.

This year’s annual Andalusia Middle School veterans’ day program will be held on Friday at 1 p.m. Because parking is limited at AMS, a shuttle service is being provided with pick-ups at 12:35 p.m. at the following locations:

• city hall;

• Johnson Park;

• First Baptist Church, Andalusia;

• First Baptist Church, Whatley Street;

• Cedar Grove Church of Christ;

• Coleman Center;

• Southside Baptist Church; and

• Harmony Baptist Church (Please call 222-8117 to schedule a pick-up at this location.)

There will be no parking at the school.

Johnson said he believes Saturday’s air show at the South Alabama Regional Airport performance by the U.S. Air Force A-10A Thunderbolt II West Coast Team will be the biggest draw of the event. The gates open to the general public at 9 a.m., and food vendors and various exhibitors will be on site throughout the day. Musical artists Scott Rogers and Phillip McClung perform at 11 a.m., and the Airshow begins at noon. Other ground entertainment includes a comical act from Greg Koontz & the Alabama Boys at 12:45 p.m. and country music artist and Opp native Martin McDaniel at 3:45 p.m., followed by fireworks from Bama Boys Fireworks.

At 3:15 p.m., the team will take to the skies with pyrotechnics.

No pets or coolers are allowed at the air show; however, attendees are encouraged to bring their cameras, lawn chairs and portable radios. The day’s events will conclude at 5 p.m.

“An event of this magnitude has never been done here before,” Johnson said. “I’d guess the crowd at 5,000 to 6,000, but it could go as high as 10,000. We’ll just have to see.”