On Monday Fairhope officials responded to a locally viral blog post about the city’s annual Lighting of the Trees ceremony downtown last week.
According to Mayor Tim Kant, the city estimated attendance this year’s tree lighting event at 12,000 people, more than double its average of 5,000 in previous years. Kant said the lighting was publicized more this year than in the past and it contributed to the massive crowd trying to pack into just a couple of city blocks for the event.
The blog post, written by Fairhope resident and Gulf Coast Media newspaper columnist Leslie Anne Harrison on fairhopesupply.com, accused “new and visiting people” of turning the event into a “pushing, shoving free-for-all.”
The blog blamed publicity from local news media for causing people from “all over the area” to come to the event, and more specifically accuses a “tough looking woman” from Robertsdale of pushing through a crowd of attendees. As of Monday evening the post garnered 159 comments and 107 “likes” on Facebook and had been shared more than 140 times from the Fairhope Supply Company’s Facebook page.
The blog takes a lighter tone later on, announcing the upcoming Fairhope Christmas Parade but advising those from outside the city to be nice and not to push when they visit.
City Council President Jack Burrell said he read the post and understands why people outside of Fairhope might consider it offensive. Burrell said he believes the author writes “tongue-in-cheek” posts about local issues to get people to click on her blog.
“I’m sure some people were offended, but I don’t think that’s what was intended,” Burrell said. “Obviously we want people to come here and we can’t keep them away. The secret is out, Fairhope is a great place with great events. They are going to come, and we need to welcome them.”
Kant said the Lighting of the Trees was a large event with a crowd much bigger than the city expected.
“With a lot of people, it was obviously very crowded,” Kant said. “There was a blog that went out and said somebody pushed somebody. But I think we should just take a minute and relax when there’s a lot of people.”
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