Demopolis is a town with a rich history. It was founded on July 14, 1817 by 150 exiled French aristocrats. The Greek word "Demopolis" means "city of the people." The town was originally intended for growing grape vines and olive crops brought over from Europe.
"It did not work out," said Kirk Brooker of the Marengo Historical Society, referring to the farming aspect. "I can't say it was a failure. We're still here today and thriving in this area of the Black Belt."
Currently, Demopolis is home to 8,000 people with very diverse industry and business. In addition, it continues to have a very low unemployment rate.
"We have Gulf Paper, New Era that makes athletic caps. We have a large catfish industry and Cemex that has been in business for over 100 years, but lots of different industry is here that really keeps Demopolis going," Brooker said.
Another important aspect of the city is the Tombigbee River. The French exiles used it for travel and industries use it today just as they did in the early 1830s and 1850s.
Of course, one of the other major uses of the river is for the annual Christmas on the River Parade. The town has other historical sights, like public square, and three historic homes: Gaineswood, Bluff Hall and Lyon Hall.
During the week of Christmas on the River, all three antebellum homes in Demopolis will be a part of what is called Christmas in the Canebrake. The homes will be decorated in period decorations and open for public tours.
A schedule of events from www.demopolisal.com is listed below.
2:30 pm - The Demopolis Singers (First Baptist Church)
5:00 pm - Lighting of the Love Light Tree (BWWMH front lawn)
5:30 pm - Crowning of St. Nicholas & Lantern Light Parade (Downtown Public Square)
7:00 pm - The Demopolis Singers (First Baptist Church))
7:00 pm - Alabama Symphony Orchestra (First Baptist Church)
7:00 pm - Community-Wide Church Service (Trinity Episcopal Church, Demopolis)
7:30 pm - 9:00 pm - Live Nativity (Trinity Episcopal Church, Demopolis)
Dec. 2 5:30 pm - 8:00 pm Christmas in the Canebrake (Bluff Hall, Gaineswood & Lyon Hall)
Admission - $3.00 per house, under 12 free
9:00 am - 2:00 pm Robertson Bank Open House (Downtown)
4:00 pm - BBQ Cook-off (City Landing), Admission - $5.00
7:30 am - 4:00 pm Fair in the Square (Downtown Public Square)
8:00 am Jingle Bell Run/Walk Registration (Downtown Public Square)
Registration Fee - $12 before Nov. 19, $15 after
8:00 am - 4:00 pm Live Entertainment Stage (BankTrust - Downtown)
11:30 am - Children's Day Parade (Downtown)
Noon - 4:00 pm Judging for the BBQ Cook-off (City Landing)
2:00 pm - Totally Free Family Movie (Marengo Theatre)
6:30 pm - 8:30 pm Nautical River Parade & Fireworks Display (City Landing)
9:00 pm - Midnight Christmas on the River Dance (Civic Center, formal)
Admission - $10.00 (21+ Only)