Set for April 13 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., “Celebrate Sylacauga” will include free food and activities, an antique car show, specials from local businesses and giveaways, among other things.
“The block party is going to be an opportunity for us to celebrate Sylacauga and our ‘100 Best’ distinction, and to begin a tradition, I think, because we want to continue this,” said organizer Margaret Morton of SAFE.
The event, operating around the slogan “Love Where You Live,” will open with a presentation of Sylacauga’s sixth consecutive “100 Best Communities for Young People” award given by America’s Promise. The annual Spirit of the Promise award will also be presented. Following these awards will be a special “Hometown Hero” presentation to Jones and a brief concert from the skilled songwriter.
“We are so proud of what (Jones) has accomplished, and we feel like it’s time to recognize it,” Morton said. “He is so humble, and he doesn’t look for recognition at all, but he really has an amazing story.”
Jones lives in Fayetteville with his wife, Patsy, and writes for Carnival Music in Nashville, Tenn. His songs have been recorded by artists Billy Currington, Alan Jackson, George Strait, Kenny Chesney, Tim McGraw, Jake Owens and others.
He was nominated for a 2009 Grammy award for his song “People are Crazy,” performed by Currington, which was No. 1 on the Billboard charts for two weeks and was nominated for song of the year by the Country Music Association and the Academy of Country Music. “Pretty Good at Drinking Beer” was another of his No. 1 songs recorded by Currington.
Jones’ “Shiftwork,” written about his time working at the Coosa Pines Mill in Childersburg, was a No. 2 song for Kenny Chesney and George Strait. In addition, his song “Timing is Everything” was a major part of the 2010 movie “Country Strong.”
Jones said he is excited, and a bit anxious, to play for his home crowd at Saturday’s event.
“It’s always good to play at home,” he said. “I think you’re always more nervous when you’re playing for people you know, but it will be fun. Anytime I get to play music is a good thing. I feel blessed to be able to do it, and I can think of a lot of things I could be doing that aren’t nearly as fun.”
Jones said he will play his hit songs along with a couple of surprises.
“I never plan what I’m going to do,” he said. “I just play whatever feels right, so there’s no telling what will happen.”
The stage will be set up in the lot at the corner of Broadway Avenue and First Street. Performances from numerous local singers and dancers will follow, emceed by Chuck Terrell, including Miss Sylacauga Ashley Payton, Dawson Brown, Miss Teen Sylacauga Caitlyn McTier, Sylacauga Karate School, Young Miss Sylacauga Ibby Dickson, Dancing Stars, BRIDGES, Grace Abernathy, Catie Calkins, Performing Arts, “Comer Idol” Trey Turner, Mt. Zion Praise Team, Jeffrey Newman and others.
Elsewhere downtown will be free children’s activities along First Street, an antique car show on Calhoun Avenue, various giveaways, and specials from local businesses. Coosa Valley Medical Center will provide 1,000 free hot dogs, and Blue Bell Creameries will be handing out free ice cream. Also, public transportation buses will offer city tours narrated by members of the Joe Duck Society starting at 11 a.m.
“There are going to be things going on up and down Broadway and the surrounding areas,” Morton said. “We want to encourage everybody to make their way all the way down to Blue Bell Park where the marble sculptors will be set up, because this is just a complement to the Marble Festival.”
“Celebrate Sylacauga” is sponsored by many groups, including Sylacauga’s Promise Committee, Celebrate Sylacauga Committee, Chamber of Commerce and SAFE. Organizers are expecting more than 1,000 people at the block party, which Morton called a true community effort.
“Upward of 150 people are involved in this effort,” she said. “The business community, led in large part by (Magnolia’s owner) Linda Hardy, is what really ignited this idea and has created a synergy that is very exciting.”
The event is hoped to be the beginning of many opportunities to acknowledge Sylacauga’s positive attributes, Morton said.
“We have a lot that is inviting and noteworthy and a lot of phenomenal things happening in our community, and we want to take the opportunity to recognize that,” she said. “We want to create ongoing opportunities to do that and to let people know we’re open for business in Sylacauga, we love where we live, and we want you to do the same.”
Find “Celebrate Sylacauga” on Facebook for more information.