Jubilee organizers watch weather closely

Published 7:28 pm Friday, March 2, 2012

Elementary school students from throughout the area took part in the annual Children’s Sojourn Friday, part of the annual Bridge Crossing Jubilee. Included in the event is the chance for the children to walk across the Edmund Pettus Bridge. This year, they were led by the 2012 Miss Jubilee winner Shai Briana Atkins. -- Tim Reeves

Friday morning, Bridge Crossing Jubilee official Sam Walker took his seat, took off his hat and looked closely at the radar screen before him. It likely wasn’t the same look he gives when watching the local news on any normal evening.

Friday just happened to be the day before the bulk of the annual Jubilee’s events were planned, and a severe weather system was forecasted to blow through the area just about the time dozens of vendors from across the country were poised to begin setting up their outdoor booths.

Needless to say, Walker was a little more anxious watching this radar and listening to officials from the National Weather Service and the Dallas County Emergency Management Agency.

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“Normally we start setting up the stage and letting our vendors start setting up at around 6 p.m. Friday night,” Walker said after the meeting. “After listening to the forecast, I don’t think that is going to happen this year.”

Saturday’s Jubilee events traditionally include concerts and vendors along Selma’s historic Water Avenue. During the 2011 Jubilee, weather forced organizers to move vendors and events to two indoor locations, a plan organizers are seriously considering again this year.

“If we have to, we will move the Gospel events to the School of Discovery and the other acts and events to the old National Guard Armory,” Walker said. “I just hope we don’t have to.”

During Friday’s meeting with Jubilee and weather officials, severe weather — consisting of heavy rains, high winds and possible tornados — was expected in the Dallas County area after 8 p.m.

Walker said he and other Jubilee officials will wait to decide on whether to move to their indoor locations at around 6 a.m. Saturday.

In the briefing, weather officials did say that after the worst of the severe weather left the area, rain could remain a factor into early afternoon.

“If I see that the sun is on the horizon at 6 a.m., then we will begin setting up,” Walker said.