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Main Street Designation Adds Spark to Celebration

Downtown Elba was alive with spirit as the Chamber of Commerce presented the “Let Freedom Ring” event celebrating Independence Day and Elba’s Main Street Alabama designation. The event featured watermelon eating contests, a parade, live music and speakers from city leaders and Mary Helmer, Main Street Alabama director.

Mayor Mickey Murdock spoke about new city projects, including more housing and road construction. He introduced Helmer who expressed her excitement to be in Elba again and her admiration for the excitement and passion of the people of Elba. She told listeners about the presentation the Main Street committee heard from Elba’s representatives and how impressive it was.        

“Even though you’re small, you have love,” she said. The presenters “really know and understand the four points” of Main Street, which are organization, promotion, design, and economic reasoning.

Helmer described the Main Street approach, which is a five-year process starting with a “public visioning session.” The Elba Main Street Board met with Ms. Helmer for introductions and preliminary planning.

Helmer said that since all communities are different, Main Street does not use a “cookie cutter” system, but instead uses the unique talents and strengths of communities to revitalize and support their historic downtown districts. 

She also told the crowd about her personal love for historic theaters. “When I heard about the theater here, I was just thrilled!” The Historic Elba Theater, owned by Restoration 154, should see some extra support from the Main Street Alabama organization. The group can help with architectural planning, fundraising, and publicity.

Elba citizens of all ages cheered for the future of their city with Main Street, and the festivities continued to celebrate Independence Day. Miss Elba and Junior Miss Elba led the parade around the square and vendors sold goods, with a portion of the proceeds benefiting the Elba Community Food Bank.

“Basin 4 Him,” the praise band from Basin Baptist Church serenaded the audience with patriotic and gospel music throughout the night. Watermelon eating and seed spitting contests were a big hit with the younger participants, and all were blown away by an incredible fireworks display.

This is the first Independence Day celebration Elba has had in several years, and I was surprised and happy to see such a great turnout. I thought the program was nicely planned, and it was obvious a lot of hard work had been put in by Ms. Sandy Bynum and the rest of the Chamber of Commerce.

All of Elba has embraced the Main Street designation and the energy and momentum are contagious as the city heads toward a new chapter of revitalization.

The night perfectly exemplified the spirit of Elba. Bynum expressed it best by saying, “Our downtown is who we were and who we are now…tonight we celebrate the birth of our nation and the rebirth of our town!”