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Sunny skies, light breezes form ‘perfect’ backdrop for WSD celebration

Students from Byrneville Elementary School’s Braves Club sold flavored rock candy.
Some of the younger WSD attendees were overwhelmed by the event.


News Staff Writer

A crowd estimated by Atmore Police Chief Chuck Brooks at “around 3,000” enjoyed sunshine and light breezes to make the 2023 version of Williams Station Day, held last Saturday, October 28, a roaring success.

“The weather was perfect,” agreed Anna Ellis, executive director of Atmore Area Chamber of Commerce, the event’s sponsor. “I think everything went really well.”

Ellis said it would be hard to put a number on the size of the crowd that roamed from one end of Pensacola Avenue to the other. No admission is charged for the community event.

“There were a lot; I have no idea how many,” she said. “We usually say between 3,000 and 5,000, just as a rough estimate, because you never really know.”

More than 100 vendors were on hand, selling an array of merchandise that ranged from handcrafted items, to baked goods, food and drink, and political persuasion.

There were informational booths where at least one political party, several quasi-governmental agencies and commercial outlets handed out free literature and small gifts.

“We wound up with 103 vendors,” Ellis said. “We had 106 that had signed up, but three had to pull out because of emergencies.”

Several churches were selling everything from rock candy to kettle corn to raise funds for various projects.

Frisco Gehman, one of many Mennonite Christian Fellowship members who manned a booth, said his group was trying to raise money for an upcoming humanitarian mission.

“We’re planning to do a mission in Costa Rica,” Gehman explained. “We’re going to build a home, from the ground up, for an impoverished or homeless family.”

Attendees were also treated to the dance moves of students from Rising Stars Studio of Dance, performances by singer-musicians Justin Covard, Joey Collins and Jason Crysell, and recorded music from DJ Kris Stewart, who also emceed the festival.

The annual Cruisers Unlimited Car Show was a big hit, and winners of two Atmore Public Library-sponsored contests — pumpkin decorating and 4th-grade creative writing — were announced.

In the creative writing competition, winners from each of the four schools were: 

Escambia Academy

1st — Leilani Cheney: 2nd — Tucker Wade Bryant: 3rd — Caylee St. Germain.

Rachel Patterson Elementary

1st — Paris Davis: 2nd — Tamarian Webb: 3rd — Jah’Liyah Dawson.

Huxford Elementary

1st — Harmony Blackbear: 2nd (tie) — Ciara Staples and Braxton Bowman; 3rd — Maecie Ward.

Flomaton Elementary

1st — Nylah Johnson; 2nd — Jackson Shumaker: 3rd — Fisher Morgan.

In the decorated pumpkins contest, the winners — whose entries were on display at the festival — were:

Best Overall (“Alice in Wonderland”) — Everleigh Paul, Elin Paul, & Eastlyn Whidbee; Most Original (“Double Bubble”) — The Vasques’; Most Realistic (“Cauldron”) — Shelby Shaw; Best Book Character (“Fly Guy”) — Shawana Johnson; Silliest (“Hey Hey”) — Callie Murphy.

Six juried artists also displayed and hawked their creations while competing for prizes. A list of winners was unavailable by Tuesday’s press deadline.

Prior to the formal start of the event, local and area runners took part in Atmore Community Hospital’s annual Breast Cancer Awareness 5K Walk / Run.

The top three finishers in the 5-18 age group were Parker Lassitter (1st, 23:54), Braylon Corbitt (2nd, 24:12) and Colton Rolin (3rd, 24:17).

Joseph Brantley (20:29) took first in the 19-49 age category, with Will Rolin (24:17) and Arri Torres (26:56) were, respectively, second and third.

 In the 50 and over category, Tracy Emmons finished at 26:27, just one second ahead of Doug Welch (26:28), and Christina Resmondo (29:21) took third.

Ellis said she and her staff are already working on next year’s celebration while also preparing for upcoming events.

“Applications have already been sent out for next year,” she said. “Now we’re moving on to our other events, like Music on Main, the Christmas parade and so on.”

Runners leave the starting line at the 2023 Atmore Community Hospital Breast Cancer Awareness 5K Run, which preceded the official commencement of Williams Station Day.