Tuesday, December 16, 2014


The Princess Theatre Center for the Performing Arts hosts the 5th annual film festival at the historic Theatre that once served as Decatur’s movie theater from the 1920’s until 1978.  The annual River City Film Festival, presented by the Princess Theatre in partnership with the Decatur City Schools and Calhoun Community College, celebrates and promotes film as art and education.  The film competition will showcase innovative feature and short films by students and independent filmmakers with screenings, workshops and an awards ceremony on April 10-11, 2015.  Prizes awarded.


The River City Film Festival invites filmmakers of all ages to submit short (less than 20 minutes) or feature films now by the deadline of February 17, 2015. The Festival is open to all movie genres with entries for original short and feature films in one of the following categories, Young Filmmaker Short (grades k-12), Young Filmmaker Feature, Independent Filmmaker Short and Independent Filmmaker Feature.   The competition rules, entry form, deadlines and submission information are posted and can be downloaded on the Princess Theatre website at http://www.princesstheatre.org/events/river.php.  Film and video production workshops will also be scheduled during the Festival.

The River City Film Festival is made possible by grants from the Alabama State Council on the Arts and the National Endowment for the Arts with additional support by Watkins College of Art, Design & Film and The Daniel Foundation.

          For more information on the Film Festival, call 256-350-1745 x 301 or visit                                           https://www.facebook.com/rivercityfilmfestival.

A One Day Event for the Birds

Festival of the Cranes Returns to Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge January 10, 2015.

A fun-filled day of nature walks, live raptors, and special programs is planned when the Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge holds the third annual Festival of the Cranes. Set for January 10, 2015, the celebration of Sandhill Cranes and Whooping Cranes will bring together experienced birders and those who would like to learn more about birding and other wildlife that call the Refuge home. Featured presenter at this year’s event is internationally renowned storyteller and naturalist Brian “Fox” Ellis.

Over 14,000 Sandhill Cranes along with several pairs of Whooping Cranes spend the winter each year at Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge. Hosted by the Wheeler Wildlife Refuge Association, the Festival of the Cranes kicks off at 6:30 a.m. with a Sunrise Breakfast in the Visitor Center classroom. Following breakfast, Refuge Manager Dwight Cooley will lead an early morning birding walk to see cranes and other waterfowl arrive in the fields to begin their day of feeding and loafing. A donation of $5 per person will be accepted to benefit future refuge programs. Participants are encouraged to wear comfortable walking shoes and to bring binoculars and a camera.

During the day-long event, the enclosed Wildlife Observation Building will offer views of thousands of Sandhill Cranes, along with Whooping Cranes, ducks, geese, raptors, and maybe a bald eagle. There will be bleachers and spotting scopes available along with volunteers and staff members on hand to answer questions.

Acclaimed author, storyteller, and naturalist Brian “Fox” Ellis will be the featured speaker and will be presenting his “Crane Tales Around the World” at 10 a.m., “Birding with Audubon” at 12:45 p.m., and “Adventures with John James Audubon” at 2 p.m.

Additional activities include two showings of Hope Takes Wing, a film by and about Operation Migration chronicling the history of the Whooping crane, and two presentations by the Auburn University’s Southeastern Raptor Center to teach about birds of prey and offer an up-close look at owls, hawks, falcons, and eagles. Children can take part in a special activity in the classroom from 9 to 11 a.m. and 1 to 3 p.m. From 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., there will be a pizza lunch with proceeds benefitting the Wheeler Wildlife Refuge Association. The daylong event concludes at 5 p.m.

In conjunction with Festival of the Cranes, the Alabama Center for the Arts, located at 133 2nd Avenue NE in downtown Decatur, will host the inaugural juried Festival of the Cranes Art Exhibit. Featuring selected artwork from students, alumni artists and faculty of Athens State University and Calhoun Community College, the show includes a diverse collection of art forms and media that depicts cranes, birds, waterfowl, ducks, geese, raptors, eagles, falcons, wildlife and nature. The art center will be open from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. and admission is free.
The Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge Visitor Center is located at 3121 Visitor Center Road in Decatur. For more information on the Festival of the Cranes, visit www.friendsofwheelerrefuge.org or call Teresa Adams, supervisory ranger for Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge, at 256.350.6639.

Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge was established on July 7, 1938 by Executive Order of President Franklin D. Roosevelt as the first National Wildlife Refuge placed on a multi-purpose reservoir to provide habitat for wintering and migrating birds. Covering 35,000 acres, it attracts thousands of wintering waterfowl each year and is home to Alabama’s largest wintering duck population. The Refuge also supports the state’s largest concentration of Sandhill Cranes and the endangered Whooping Crane. For more information on Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge, visit www.fws.gov/wheeler

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Historic Decatur Christmas Tour Set for December 13

The Albany and Old Decatur Historic Districts will present their annual Historic Decatur Christmas Tour on Saturday, December 13, 2014. Ten homes and sites, trimmed in traditional decorations, will be open for viewing as part of the self-guided tour from 3 to 8 p.m. Along with the tour, the annual event offers holiday decorating tips, carriage rides, refreshments, and live holiday music.

Residences in the Albany and Old Decatur Historic Districts are not normally open for public viewing except when a select number of homes open their doors during the annual holiday tour. This year’s tour features 10 beautiful homes and sites each beautifully decorated with luminaries, fruit, greenery, and thousands of lights.

Participating homes and sites include:

-        The Lighton House (506 Ferry Street NE)
This one-story Queen Ann style Victorian was built in 1906. From an inscription found on the basement wall, indications are the Brown family was one of its first inhabitants.

-        The Lyons-McNeill Apartments (406 Lafayette Street NE)
The Lyons-McNeill Apartments are located on land that was part of a 307-acre land grant in 1821 from President James Monroe to five north Alabama citizens. Some of the family names of these citizens were Garth, Rhodes, Peck and others. (Two apartments will be open for viewing.)

-        The Jacobs House (515 Canal Street NE)
This home was originally built in 1910 as a Victorian style one-story house using “balloon” framing techniques. The home has a truncated hip room pent at the porch and the front entry features pilasters, which flank the front door.

-        The LeVenne Terrace Apartments (508 Oak Street NE)
The Tillery family built this historic home in the Greek-Revival style in the early 1870s as a two-story, single-family home of about 2,000 square feet. More than 70 years later, the Harris family converted the home into the LeVenne Terrace Apartments.

-        The Williams-McKay House (1044 Jackson Street SE)
Prevalent in the United States in the early 1900s through the 1950s, the Williams-McKay House is an excellent example of the Colonial Revival style. Based on the English and Dutch colonial styles popular in the early colonies on the Eastern seaboard, there were many variations on the shape of Colonial Revival homes.

-        The Pirie-Johnston House (634 Grant Street SE)
This location was originally part of a land grant from the U.S. Government to the State of Alabama in 1828. In 1887, it became part of the incorporation of the Decatur Land Improvement and Furnace Company, Inc. The home was built around 1909 as a two-story residence.

-        First United Methodist Church (805 Canal Street NE)
Decatur’s First United Methodist Church was officially organized in 1834.

-        St. John’s Episcopal Church (202 Gordon Street SE)
Serving as Tour headquarters this year, St. John’s Episcopal Church is one of the most beautiful structures in Historic Decatur. After a fire burned St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, originally organized in 1867, to the ground in 1888, its parishioners differed over where to rebuild, in Old Decatur or in New Decatur (now Albany Historic District).

-        The Old State Bank (925 Bank Street NE)
The Old State Bank remains at its original site from when it first opened in 1833. The two story structure sports Federal Empire period architecture, which was popular in the 1830s.

-        The Carnegie Visual Arts Center (207 Church Street NE)
Originally constructed in 1904 as The Carnegie Library with funding from the Carnegie Foundation, the Carnegie Visual Arts Center is one of the few remaining original Carnegie Library buildings in the nation.

Visit www.decaturchristmastour.com/sites.htm for a more detailed description of each site.

Along with the self-guided tour of homes, neighborhood churches will open their doors for inspirational concerts and refreshments. Carillon Christmas music can be heard throughout the afternoon and evening at First Presbyterian Church and Westminster Presbyterian Church. During the Tour of Homes, refreshments from local eateries and restaurants will be served in the Parish Hall at St. John’s Episcopal Church and carriage rides will be offered beginning at 3 p.m. departing from the Carnegie Visual Arts Center (weather permitting).

Designers from Townhouse Galleries will demonstrate ways to transform the dining table into an inspiring holiday tablescape. Set for 5 p.m., the workshop will be held in the Parish Hall at St. John’s Episcopal Church. The Decatur Youth Symphony will present a program of holiday music at 4 p.m. at First Presbyterian Church and the Alabama Center for the Arts will offer a tour of their facility, a variety of activities including a pop up art gallery with original works of art for sale, and a Painting Pizazz class beginning at 3 p.m. Cost for the painting class is $35 per person (all supplies provided) and pre-registration is required by calling 256.260.2462.

Tickets are $20 each and can be purchased in advance at the Decatur-Morgan County Convention & Visitors Bureau, Bank Street Art and Antiques, the Carnegie Visual Arts Center, Tammy Eddy Antiques and Interiors, and Jimmy Smith Jewelers. On the day of the tour, tickets can also be purchased at the Old State Bank, the Carnegie Visual Arts Center, and First United Methodist Church from 2 to 7 p.m. Proceeds from the tour are used to preserve, protect and enhance the character and legacy of the historic neighborhoods.

For a schedule of events and more information on the participating historic homes and sites, visit www.decaturchristmastour.com.

A Jolly Good Time in December in Downtown Decatur

Extended shopping hours, twinkling lights and 3rd Friday fun will have downtown Decatur filled with locals and visitors during the month of December in celebration of the holiday season. Shoppers can tackle their Christmas lists on Tuesday evenings while enjoying the sights and sounds that Christmas brings and 3rd Friday returns for the final time in 2014 offering its usual free family fun.

The Downtown Decatur and Merchants and Business Association has announced extended hours for many downtown businesses. “Shop till 7” will be held every Tuesday in December until Christmas. The extended hours one night a week will allow holiday shoppers extra time to complete their holiday shopping. Each week, the Downtown Decatur and Merchants and Business Association will post a list on its Facebook page of the stores participating.

Thousands of twinkling lights have Bank Street and Second Avenue shining brightly as shoppers search for one-of-a-kind gifts and other holiday treats. The Old State Bank will be lit up to match the Christmas tree located nearby.

On December 19th, everyone is invited to join downtown restaurants and merchants for a modified 3rd Friday. Restaurants will be ready to serve their delicious food and drinks, stores will offer extended hours and specials, and there will be classic cars parked on Second Avenue in the block from Lee Street to Moulton Street. Streets will be open in both the Bank Street area and Second Avenue area (with the exception of where the classic cars will be on display) to make dining and shopping convenient for visitors. Live music can also be found inside of some of the merchants and restaurants. The festivities get underway at 5 p.m.

Participating streets in 3rd Fridays include 2nd Avenue, Bank, Market, Moulton, Grant, and Johnston streets. Hours are 5 to 9 p.m. Admission is free. 3rd Friday Downtown Decatur is organized by the members of the Downtown Decatur Merchants and Business Association.

The Downtown Merchants Association wishes to thank the City of Decatur Parks and Recreation Department for the tremendous support they provide to the event as an in-kind sponsor. Presenting sponsor is Budweiser. Diamond Sponsor is Decatur Downtown Redevelopment Authority. Gold Sponsors include Bank Independent, BP, Decatur/Morgan County Convention and Visitors Bureau, Decatur-Morgan County Chamber of Commerce, Progress Bank, and Morgan County Commission. Silver Sponsors are Nucor Steel and 3M. Bronze Sponsors are Renasant Bank, Stovall-Marks Insurance, Beautiful Edge-A Paul Mitchell Focus Salon, and King Insurance Agency.

For more information, call Ashley Ashwander at 256.355.8993 or visit 3rd Friday’s Facebook page for the latest information.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Decatur’s Christmas Parade Set for December 1

The Decatur Jaycees will present its annual Christmas Parade on December 1, 2014, in downtown Decatur. The theme for this year’s community parade is “A Christmas Carol” and grand marshall is Retired Judge David Breland.

Judge Breland is a native and life-long resident of Decatur. He served as Morgan County District Court Judge from 1983 to 2008 where during this time, the court was honored on numerous occasions for its case administration efficiency. In 2006, he was presented the Barrett C. Shelton Sr. Freedom Award, was named Judge of the Year by the Alabama Fatherhood Initiative in 2007, received the Decatur-Morgan County Chamber of Commerce A.C. Banks Citizen of the Year and the Newton B. Powell Service Award for lifetime achievement as an elected official in North Alabama in 2008, and is the recipient of many other community, state and national humanitarian awards. Today, he serves as the program coordinator for the Historic Preservation Commission and is a member of the Rotary Club of Decatur.

Line-up begins at 5:30 p.m. with the parade making its way down Second Avenue at 6 p.m. following its usual route of Second Avenue, Lee Street and Bank Street.

A $100 prize will be awarded in each of the four categories: Best Decorated Float, Best Decorated Vehicle, Best Decorated Walking Unit and Best Decorated Animal. Registration is $25 per entry. The deadline for registration is Monday, November 24, 2014.

The Christmas spirit continues with a movie at the Princess Theatre. “Scrooge”, complimentary of the Rotary Club, will be shown free to the public immediately following the parade.

In case of inclement weather, the parade will be held the following Monday, December 8, 2014. The free movie will take place on December 1 regardless of the weather.

For more information, call Brandy Dixon at 256.445.3158.


Monday, November 17, 2014

The Alabama Junior Cup Returns to Decatur November 22-23, 2014

The Alabama Junior Cup Tournament returns to the Jack Allen Recreation Complex next month as part of a three-year commitment. The 2014 Alabama Junior Cup Tournament, an Alabama Youth Soccer Association and United States Youth Soccer Association (USYSA) sanctioned tournament hosted by Premier Soccer Services is set for November 22-23, 2014, and organizers are expecting up to 75 boys’ club teams from Alabama, Mississippi and Tennessee. All matches will be played at the Jack Allen Recreation Complex located in Decatur, Ala.

The Alabama Junior Cup is a tournament offering USYSA affiliated Premier, Challenge, Classic, and Academy level U9-U14 boys’ competitive soccer opportunities. There will be a minimum of two divisions per age division – an elite level of play and 1-2 competitive divisions tiered lower. Trophies will be awarded to the championship and runner-up teams in each age division.

Games get underway at 8:45 a.m. on November 22nd and 23rd.  For the Finals on November 23rd, players can participate in an international walkout with the U.S. National Anthem prior to the start of matches.

Each team consists of an average of 12 players, with each player accompanied by three or four family members. Participants and their families will take of advantage of local hotels, restaurants, and other businesses in Decatur during the two-day tournament providing an economic boost to the local economy.

The Jack Allen Recreation Complex will also serve as host venue for the tournament November 20-22, 2015. For complete registration information on the tournament, visit www.premiersoccerservices.com.    

For more information on the Jack Allen Recreation Complex, visit www.decatursports.com