Many deserve kudos for Candyland

Published 12:56 am Saturday, December 19, 2015

If you think you need a kid for an excuse to visit Christmas in Candyland, borrow one now. Alternately, take a camera and just say you’re helping out the newspaper.

Andalusia’s new signature event, which began Dec. 3, is a delight. The energy and enthusiasm of the children and parents who visit, along with the remarks of visitors and the people drawn here by the attraction, will make you so proud this is happening where you live.

There are so many great stories. Last weekend, I overheard a woman who appeared to be posing in a four-generation photograph near the massive tree on the Square say that all of her family had come from Dothan to see Candyland.

“We are so proud of our town,” she said.

Indeed we are.

On Sunday, a group came from Crestview to try ice skating. They arrived just as the rink was about to be closed for the weekend. The city employees who are sporting those “event staff” T-shirts had to have been exhausted after a long weekend of working. But instead of closing and disappointing a group of children, they kept the rink open and let them skate.

The children, of course, were ecstatic. There is no doubt their parents spoke well of Andalusia in their community this past week. And Thursday night, some of that group was back. Let that sink in for a moment – people drove an hour, from a larger community, to consume entertainment here. And they did it twice in one week.

Another woman who was participating in the fun last Saturday hailed from Greenville. She said she usually picks up her grandchildren in the Montgomery area and heads to Bass Pro Shops in Prattville for a holiday outing. This year, the family saw the Candyland publicity and came south instead.

Kudos for dreaming up the idea of making some magical memories go to Chamber Executive Director Chrissie Duffy, who juggles the demands of four active children with providing great fun for all of our children with great finesse. She – and her children – have practically lived on the Square and at Springdale this month.

But she found almost instant support from a city administration that loves this town and said, “Let’s do it.” Mayor Earl Johnson and council members Ralph Wells, Kennith Mount, Will Sconiers, Hazel Griffin, and Terry Powell are to be commended for doing something so positive.

When Chrissie said, “Let’s make it bigger and better this year,” the council said yes. And then the mayor got busy finding private sponsorships to make it possible. Councilman Wells even (briefly) ditched his orange (and blue) shirts for a red one to prove he was in the Christmas and Candyland spirit.

The kudos don’t stop there. There is an amazing group of people who are employed by the city who have worked tirelessly to make this project appear seamless. As in the example noted above, they have continually gone above and beyond the call of duty to make our community shine.

So borrow a kid or grab a camera, and don’t miss this fun event that has turned our community into a mini tourist attraction for almost a month. While you’re there, thank all of these hard-working folks who’ve made it possible.


Michele Gerlach is the publisher of The Star-News. She can be reached by email at michele.gerlach@andalusiastarnews, or by phone at 222-2402.