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Old Cahawba debuts bikes and trail

Andrew Odom, an intern with Living Democracy poses with the area high school students who participated in the Living Democracy program. Under Odom’s leadership, the students experienced city and county government meetings as well as planned the ribbon cutting ceremony for the Old Cahawba Bike Trail. -- Ashley Johnson

It is not every day that you see town dignitaries like the mayor and probate judge racing on bicycles in a local ghost town.

On Thursday morning, Old Cahawba unveiled its newest venture— a bike trail complete with new bicycles that are free to the public to ride through the once bustling, but now abandoned city. Creators of the bike trail say this will promote recreation, tourism, industry and education about the historical site in the Black Belt and Dallas County.

The Regions Bank lime green bicycles were donated by the local Regions branch and another fleet of bikes was provided through funding by the Strategic Health Alliance.

“This is great for aging baby boomers like me or for families. You can use the bikes and easily make your way around the park,” Linda Derry, Old Cahawba Archeological Park Director said.

The park partnered with Regions Bank, the Alabama Historical Commission and Alabama Strategic Alliance for Health to make the bikes, helmets and new brochures a reality for Old Cahawba.

“With an explorers guide you can find something interesting you might not have seen before in this ghost town,” Derry said, “and get your exercise at the same time. It’s like a pill that has a good flavor.”

The new brochures offer a full map of the historical site and clues to guide explorers to find things throughout a five-mile course.

Dallas County Commissioner Larry Nickles said the bicycles and brochures are not only a great resource for vacationers coming from out of town, but also for stay-cationers.

“The number one resource now in Alabama is recreation and tourism and we are not going on vacation like we used to,” Nickles said. “We are staying at home and the more events like these that we have and the more we have to offer, the more each and every one of us will prosper.”

Nine children from the area helped organize Thursday’s ribbon cutting as part of the Living Democracy Initiative. Led by intern Andrew Odom, the children have learned about participating in the local government and leadership this summer. They organized the entire ribbon-cutting event down to creating the ribbon. Dignitaries like Mayor George Evans, Probate Judge Kim Ballard and City President of Regions Bank Edward McCurdy, were some the inaugural riders. In dress pants and button-up shirts they rode the bicycles through the ribbon to open the park.