“With the weather as good as it is, we’ll probably have more than 10,000 people here tonight,” said Lynn Batemon, executive director for the Pell City Chamber of Commerce, which spearheaded efforts for the 11th annual Hometown Block Party. “We kind of worried about the weather all afternoon but looking at it now, we’re blessed.”
By 6 p.m., people filled the city’s downtown streets, and organizers said when night falls, the crowds grow even larger.
“All I’m going to say is this is another great event organized by a great group of people,” Batemon said.
Chamber of Commerce president Joel Day kicked off the celebrations by welcoming the crowd.
“Those of you who have been here before know we’re going to have a great night,” Day said.
He said the block party basically took a full year of planning.
“I want everybody to have a good time tonight,” Day said.
Day also recognized members of the block party committee during the 5:30 p.m. kick off.
“It’s sort of a mini-City Stages,” said Burt Stuman, who was enjoying the block party with his wife Cindy.
“We enjoy the entertainment,” Cindy said. “The impersonators are our favorite.”
Mayor Bill Hereford also welcomed guests to the block party.
“This is Pell City’s Homecoming weekend,” Hereford said. “We’re just getting warmed up tonight.”
A Kids Catfish Rodeo is slated for this morning at the city’s Lakeside Park, and the St. Clair County Home Builders Association is hosting a Summer Fest featuring entertainment, food and vendors, also at the park. The Summer Fest gets started at 11 a.m., and the Catfish Rodeo is slated for 8:30 a.m.
Organizers say the block party has pulled in a variety of people from different areas.
Darren Rowan of New Orleans only arrived hours before the block party kicked off.
“I had to come,” he said.
Rowan gave the block party a ‘thumbs up.’
Rowan was in town visiting his daughter and son-in-law, Donya and Jeremy Deal.
“We brought him in for the best weekend in Pell City,” Jeremy said. “It’s a happening weekend – and it’s not raining this year.”
Day said there were 149 booth spaces filled in and around downtown, the highest number ever for the block party.
Vendors included many local businesses and organizations. An assortment of food, carnival rides for children and booths where party goers could find anything from a turtle to take home to a colorful tattoo. Visitors could even open up a new bank account at one booth.
But it’s the entertainment that is the big draw for the block party.
“I like the entertainment and the people,” Lorendia Potts said.
It was Potts’ fourth or fifth block party visit.
Cindy Deese said she enjoys the entertainment most, but she was making time to browse through all the commercial booths, which lined the streets and sidewalks around the St. Clair County Courthouse.
At the block party, Councilmen Greg Gossett and James McGowan also unveiled the newest Pell City Historical Marker, which will find a permanent home in front of City Hall.
“Thank you for coming,” Hereford told guests. “Welcome.”