“This is the 14th year for the block party, but it’s my first,” said Republican U.S. Cong. Mike Rogers, who was only a few steps away from the St. Clair County Democratic Party that set up an information booth at the event.
But the annual block party was not about politics. It was about good times, seeing old friends and meeting new ones.
“I look forward with talking with you over something battered, fried and bad for your heart,” Rogers said to the audience before he left the center stage on Cogswell Avenue.
Mayor Joe Funderburg welcomed the large crowd of people that continued to build after the late afternoon rain passed through Pell City Friday.
“It’s gone,” said Tommy Bowers, the district manager for Alabama Power Company in Pell City.
He predicted that all the rain had passed and no more wet stuff was in the forecast for this year’s Block Party.
In fact, the sun peaked from behind the clouds at times.
“It may be a little wet out here, but that’s not going to dampen this party,” Funderburg shouted from the stage.
The crowd erupted with claps and cheers.
Funderburg said there was a lot of good music to be played Friday night around the St. Clair County Courthouse
Five stages surrounded the county courthouse offering music from Motown to country to rock’n’roll.
“I want everyone to have a good time,” Funderburg said.
And generally, according to Police Chief Greg Turley, everyone does.
“Once in a blue moon we have someone do something silly,” Turley said, “But I think for the size of the crowd we have, it’s amazing we don’t have more incidents. We expect another calm, fun Block Party night.”
Friday night’s Block Party could go down as one of the biggest.
Erica Grieve, the executive director for the Greater Pell City Chamber of Commerce, said President Randy Mason spearheaded efforts to negotiate the temporary closing of U.S. 78 or Cogswell Avenue with the Alabama Department of Transportation to expand the Block Party.
“This is the first time we were able to close Cogswell Avenue” Grieve said.
The additional road closing gave people more elbow space, and allowed organizers to set up chairs and tables in the courthouse parking lot, so people could get off their feet and rest.
The smell of grilled foods filled the air downtown as more than 120 vendors lined the streets around the courthouse. Some vendors offered free give-a-ways and special drawings to those who passed their booths.
“Most of them are local vendors,” Grieve said. “We try to use our local vendors to fill the spaces first but we include vendors from outside our area, too.”
A variety of bands played throughout the night, as children enjoyed a special area just for them behind city hall.
“This is awesome,” said Kathryn, a little girl who completed one of the carnival type rides for children.
Kathryn was one of four grandchildren Patricia Northcutt of Pell City brought to the Block Party.
This was her fifth or sixth block party appearance, mainly for the grandchildren, she said.
“Oh Lord, we had to bring the grandchildren,” Northcutt said. “I heard they expanded it this year. That’s even better. You can move around more.”
Joan Rodiles of Arizona, who was visiting family in Pell City, also appeared to be enjoying the party and was even in the spirit to tease a little.
“I flew in here just for this,” she said.
Northcutt added, “There is a lot more this year. There are all sorts of rides for the children.”
Contact David Atchison at email@example.com