Thursday, June 26, 2014

Decatur’s Spirit of America 4th of July Fireworks Display Lights the Sky at 9PM

A spectacular fireworks show will launch from Point Mallard Park in Decatur at 9 p.m. on July 4, 2014, following a video presentation down memory lane. While the annual Spirit of America Festival has been scaled back from previous years, the event is still a special time for Americans to join together to celebrate our nation’s freedom and to pause and reflect on the sacrifices military personnel and their families make every day.

Always held July 4th, the Spirit of America Festival attracts thousands of families to Point Mallard Park in Decatur for free all American fun and a spectacular fireworks show. A 45-minute video showcasing the first 47 years of the festival will be shown at 8 p.m. The inspirational program will conclude at 9 p.m. with the Spirit of America Fireworks Display, and according to festival organizers, it will be the largest ever presented in the city of Decatur. A live simulcast will be offered by the Festival’s media partner, Clear Channel Communications and can be heard on WDRM 102.1 and 100.3 The River.

All activities take place in Point Mallard Park located at 2901 Point Mallard Drive in Decatur. Admission is free. For more information, visit or visit its Facebook page.

The best seat for viewing the Spirit of America firework show may be from the water. The Pickwick Belle is offering a Spirit of America Fireworks Dinner Cruise on July 4th. Departing from Ingalls Harbor at 7:30 p.m., the cruise offers a hearty barbeque meal while making its way along Wheeler Lake to Point Mallard Park and there will be live music before and after the fireworks show. A cash bar will be available and complimentary patriotic party favors will be provided. Cost is $54.99 per person plus tax and gratuity. Reservations are required and may be made by calling 877.936.2355. For more information, visit

To celebrate the holiday, Point Mallard Waterpark will remain open until 8 p.m. on Friday, July 4th.  General admission is $20 for adults (ages 12-61 years old), $15 for youth (ages 5 to 11 years old) and $15 for seniors (62+) and military.  For more information, visit

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Dreams and Reality: The Artwork of Leslie Wood

Carnegie Visual Arts Center presents the exhibit Dreams and Reality: The Artwork of Leslie Wood on display June 24 - August 2, 2014. The multifaceted exhibit features paintings and sculptures, as well as metal jewelry and elaborate art journals by Huntsville, Alabama based artist Leslie Wood. Leslie shares via video her inspiration and process of art journaling.

Leslie has been dabbling in art ever since she can remember. She has a bachelor’s degree in Aerospace
Engineering, but after working for a few years, decided to go back to college and take art classes.
She enrolled with the University of Alabama in Huntsville and studied photography, sculpture and
painting. She has expanded her creative skills with numerous master led classes and artist workshops.
Her work varies from mixed-media and art journaling to sculpture and jewelry making. She has
managed to combine her engineering and creative worlds together with mechanical references
throughout her art. Her art journaling has been published numerous times in Somerset Studio’s
magazine, ART Journaling, including two featured articles in 2012 and one in summer 2013.
Leslie’s work has been exhibited in group and solo shows including the Monte Sano Art Festival,
Panoply, and at Lowe Mill. She teaches art journaling and jewelry making throughout the year at
various locations in the Huntsville area. For more images, see
Art Journaling Workshop

A workshop on art journaling will be offered at the The Carnegie, July 29, 30, & 31 from 6 – 8 PM
each evening. During the three-evening series of classes, mixed media artist and avid art journaler,
Leslie Wood, will help participants create their own works of self-expression through collage, mixed
media, and lettering. The instruction will include theme selection, techniques, and medium and
tool selection. All skill levels are welcome and supplies are included in the workshop fee of $105 per
person. Call 256-341-0562 to register or for additional information.
Artist Statement

“Dreams and Reality is a theme, not only in my art, but in life as well. I consider my engineering day
job my “reality” and my art my “dream.” I try and make sense of the two worlds by bringing in hints of
engineering references into my artwork. In my painting and journaling, I can explore the whimsical and
sad world of the Woodland Fairies, the darkness of the Red Girls or the silliness of monsters. In my jewelry, I can explore my mechanical influences through pieces such as my Shield Pendants. My art journaling plays a large role in my Dream and Reality world as well. Many of my paintings culminated from a dream or idea that originated in an art journal. The journals let me explore the boldness and craziness of art in a more intimate setting than on canvas. In a way, the journals are the dreams that become reality on canvas or in sculpture.

Light Up Bank Street to Raise Money for Disaster Relief Efforts

Bank Street in historic downtown Decatur will be closed the last Saturday in June for the community to come together and help families that were affected by the tornado outbreak of April 28th and 29th. Live music on two stages and a projection mapping light show that has never before been seen in Decatur will provide hours of entertainment while raising funds for the Morgan-Lawrence Chapter of the American Red Cross.

River City Lights takes place on Saturday, June 28, 2014. The event gets underway at 2 p.m. with music on two stages running until 10 p.m. A DJ stage will be set up in the parking lot of the Old State Bank, and situated in front of the Old State Bank will be the main stage. Music will be ongoing with over a dozen DJ’s and performers representing a broad musical style from acoustic and bluegrass to hard rock and southern rock. Slated to perform on the main stage are Cheryl Llewellyn, Josh Allison, Iron Horse, 5ive O’clock Charlie, Illicit Ties, Rearview Ghost and Stone Senate from Nashville, and DJ’s include Ralph & Louie, Nextakin, Oreo, Tryptone and Scottie G.

The Old State Bank will also serve as a backdrop for a 3D projection mapping for an out-of-this-world light show. 3D projection mapping is a new type of light show that uses a structure, such as the Old State Bank, to create a 3D effect with projectors. The projectors are controlled by an operator using a computer to design different illusions and art on the building. An example of 3D video mapping projection can be viewed at

The north Alabama region saw 13 tornadoes from the latest outbreak on April 28-29, 2014, resulting in four deaths and widespread damage across eight counties. These storms removed 300 families from their homes. Entry to River City Lights is with any donation to the Red Cross with proceeds to benefit families affected by the tornadoes.

Festivalgoers are encouraged to bring picnic blankets and lawn chairs. For more information, call Beth McGuire, Community Chapter Executive-Morgan Lawrence Chapter, at 256.353.4891.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Having Fun in the Streeet of Downtown Decatur

Downtown Decatur’s 3rd Friday will hit the streets this coming Friday, June 20, and from 5 to 9 p.m., the downtown area will be filled with dozens of artists and crafters, live bands, and outdoor caf├ęs providing an evening of free family fun. Stretching from Second Avenue to Bank Street, the monthly celebration invites everyone to take a leisurely stroll through the streets, talk with local artists, and enjoy dinner in downtown Decatur.

The 3rd Friday celebration gets underway at 5 p.m. and as the sun goes down, the fun heats up. As festivalgoers peruse the many classic and antique cars displayed on Second Avenue and collector cars and motorcycles along Bank Street, some of the area’s best musicians will provide hours of entertainment. Slated to perform on the Main Stage, located on Bank Street from 6 to 8 p.m., is The Al Keith Band. Additional performers include Kim Stone (by Tallulah’s), the Morgan County Dulcimer Association (on Bank Street), Haden McLean (by The Antique Basket), Michael Barber (in Casa Grande Park), Correy MacIlveen (beside Downtown Dawgs), and Wes Woodard (by the Alabama Center for the Arts green space). Moe’s Original Bar-B-Que will host the Wheelers beginning at 8 p.m., Barry Hall is the featured entertainment at Simp McGhee’s, and the Back Alley Bistro will host Tim Tucker.

There will be plenty of hands-on fun for children throughout the evening including a Kids Zone on Second Avenue hosted by Bank Independent and the Carnegie Visual Arts Center will offer activities and a street art contest on Bank Street. Junior Dragsters will be on display in the 800 block of Bank Street.

Sponsored by Back Alley Bistro, horse drawn carriage rides will be available from the Alabama Center for the Arts to Bank Street. Following a leisurely ride through the downtown area, ask for discount meal coupons for lunch, dinner and brunch from Back Alley Bistro.

The Cupboard will host blacksmithing demonstrations by local artist Al Stephens of Pequea Valley Forge, wool felting demonstrations by fiber artist Laurie Popp, and an “Alabama Scoundrels” book signing with authors Kelly Kazek and Wil Elrick. Memi’s will have a jewelry trunk show and a Wildtree tasting and be sure to stop by the Echo Gypsy for storytelling with Joyce Billingsley from NPR.

The downtown area boasts an eclectic mix of restaurants and a variety of locally owned boutiques line the streets offering plenty of dining and shopping opportunities for festivalgoers. A food court on Bank Street will provide a convenient location to grab a bite to eat or cool off with a beverage from Ingalls Entertainment, Bank Street Green, Downtown Dawgs, The Big Easy, and Chuck Wagon. Along 2nd Avenue, craft vendors will be selling handmade items and The Market on Bank Street will feature artists, handmade goods and locally grown fresh produce. Store specials, giveaways, and discounts will be offered at select merchants including a fashion show hosted by Beautiful Edge-A Paul Mitchell Focus Salon and Goody 2 Shoes at 7 p.m. at the salon.

MCATS will provide transportation between Bank Street and Second Avenue for $1 per person, per ride. Pickup locations are at the Alabama Center for the Arts parking lot on Second Avenue and beside Tammy Eddy Antiques and Interiors on Bank Street.

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, including Bank Independent, Bank Street Art & Antiques, Beautiful Edge-A Paul Mitchell Focus Salon, Chenault Studios & Bank Street Green, Decatur Downtown Redevelopment Authority, Decatur Morgan County Chamber of Commerce, Decatur-Morgan County Convention and Visitors Bureau, Decatur Morgan County Farmer’s Market, Ingalls Harbor, King Insurance Agency, Mellow Mushroom, Memi’s Progress Bank, Simp McGhee’s Stovall Marks Insurance, The Cupboard, and The Paper Chase.

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, June 9, 2014

USS LST- World War II Ship Museum to Visit Decatur, Alabama

USS LST 325 to Visit Decatur, Alabama
World War II Ship Museum to be open for tours from September 4-9 at Ingalls Harbor

A 328 feet long piece of American history will be docked at Ingalls Harbor in Decatur, Alabama and will be available for public tours.  The USS LST 325 is a World War II vessel that was part of the D-Day Invasion at Omaha Beach on June 6, 1944.  This ship is one of the last of her kind and is the only working LST in the United States.  The ship is now operated as a floating museum that sails to inland river cities each year as part of its mission statement to educate the public.  By giving tours, the crew will educate everyone, young and old, as to the role these ships have played in our wars and honor those who built, sailed and served on these ships. 

The USS LST 325 will arrive in Decatur on Wednesday, September 3 and will open for tours on Thursday, September 4 through Tuesday, September 9, 2014.  Tours will take place from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm each day.  Cost is $10 for adults, $5 for children ages 6-17 and free for children ages 5 and under.  A $20 family pass is also available for 2 adults and 2 minor children.   Tours last approximately an hour.  Group tour prices are also available and must be scheduled in advance through the Decatur Morgan County Convention and Visitors Bureau. Ten or more adults in a group will qualify for a rate of $8 per person.  A rate of $3 per student will be given to groups of ten or more minors.  (For every 10 students, 1 adult is admitted free.)  For more information about the ship or to schedule group tours contact the Decatur Morgan County Convention and Visitors Bureau at 256-350-2028 or 800-524-6181. 

Carrying 20 Sherman tanks in their giant holds, the LST (Landing Ship Tank) was developed during World War II to land vehicles and personnel directly onto enemy shores.   On the main deck they could also carry 30-40 trucks, tons of fuels, ammunition or supplies and soldiers.
The USS LST 325 participated in the invasion and occupation of Sicily on July 10, 1943 (Operation HUSKY); Salerno, September 3, 1943; and the Normandy Invasion on June 6, 1944 under the command of Captain Clifford E. Mosier.  Between June 1944 and April 1945, the LST 325 made 44 trips between England and France to aid in the delivery of supplies to Omaha, Utah, Gold, Juno and the City of Rouen on the Seine River, earning 2 Battle Stars for her effort. 
The use of LST’s continued through the Korean and Vietnam War due to the ship’s ability to navigate shallow waters.  Through the years, the USS LST 325  has had a fascinating record of service and in 2000,  she was acquired by the USS LST 325 Ship Memorial, Inc. through an act of Congress.

The National LST Association has over 5,000 members and the USS LST Ship Memorial Inc. has 2,000 members whose goal is to be able to sail the ship under its own power—up the inland rivers and along the coasts, allowing all to set foot on her decks and to provide a learning experience.  The mission is to educate everyone about the role the LST played to keep America free and provide an opportunity for veterans to show their family and friends the ships on which they served. The ship also helps to preserve the memory of the men and women who built them and the men who served and died on them.

To learn more about the USS LST 325’s history visit

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Historic Districts’ Annual Garden Tour in Decatur Set for June 8

The colors of summer will be on display, Sunday, June 8, when the residents of Old Decatur and Albany Historic Districts present its annual Garden Tour. From shaded to sunny and formal to eclectic, these gardens offer ideas and inspiration. From 1 to 5 p.m., gardens will be available for viewing and homeowners will be on hand to share gardening tips.

This year’s tour boasts 12 beautiful private gardens, and in addition to the home gardens, the tour will also feature the gardens at the Old State Bank and St. John’s Episcopal Church. Light refreshments and maps of the tour will be available at Frazier Park.

Gardens on tour include:

Old Decatur Historic District
601 Oak Street NE
419 Oak Street NE
712 Line Street NE
412 Oak Street NE
120 Cherry Street NE
Frazier Park – corner of Ferry and Cherry Streets

Albany Historic District
819 Johnston Street
1047 Jackson Street
1050 Grant Street
417 Sherman Street
814 Johnston Street
817 Johnston Street
425 Sherman Street
Old State Bank – 925 Bank Street NE
St. John’s Episcopal Church – 202 Gordon Drive SE

The city of Decatur is unique in that it has two separate historic districts both of which are listed in the National Register of Historical Places. Combined, the Old Decatur and New Albany Historic Districts represents one of the finest and largest collections of Victorian and earlier 20th century craftsman and bungalow homes in Alabama. The homes date back, in some instances, to the early 1800s, while most were constructed around the turn of the 20th century. Homes and gardens in the historic districts are not normally open for public viewing except when a select number open their doors and gardens during the Garden Tour and annual Historic Decatur Christmas Tour.

The tour is free and self-guided. For more information on the Garden Tour, contact the Decatur-Morgan County Convention & Visitors Bureau at 800.524.6181 or 256.350.2028.