Downtown Dothan Christmas Festival

Parents and children wait in line to see Santa Claus during the 2016 Downtown Dothan Christmas Festival.

Santa’s coming to Dothan this weekend and he and his helpers are descending on downtown for a horde of Christmas fun.

The Dothan Downtown Redevelopment Authority hosting the 15th annual Christmas Festival announced a few changes will take place.

What has been a “pay-to-play” area in the past will now be free to all. Everyone will have access to the zip lines, carnival rides, inflatables, and other attractions on St. Andrews Street that previously required an armband.

“DDRA is paying for those rides. We don’t want anyone to feel left out,” Director of Marketing Jessica Parker said. “They’ll be able to ride as much as they want.”

Parker added that increasingly warmer weather over the past several years has been a cause for concern for the snow-filled play areas.

Due to the expected warmth on Saturday, there will not be an area for sledding or playing in manufactured snow.

“Because of the trouble we’ve had with the weather, we’ve chosen not to do the snow, so it’s sad we’re not able to do that,” Parker said. “Temperatures being as high as they are, we don’t want anyone to get hurt.”

There will be snow falling, however, in Porter Park where Mr. Claus is expected to set up his workshop after a short walking parade that will start in front of the Opera House at 10:15 a.m. Those wishing to participate are encouraged to decorate their wagons or children’s strollers before gathering. No sign-up is necessary.

The whole downtown area starting at 100 block of N. Foster Street and ending at the George Washington Carver Museum will be blocked off from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. St. Andrews Street will be blocked from the Dothan Civic Center to the Dothan Police Department.

Food vendors, merchants, and guests will be scattered around the downtown area. The Grinch will be hosted in Wadlington Park beside KBC. Local high school students and participants from organizations in the area will be caroling at the clock tower and Patti Rutland Dance Company dancers will be performing.

There will be photo opportunities available with the out-of-town guests, a train ride for little ones, an area to make s’mores, and arts and craft stations.

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