City of Valley receives tourism grant to be used for annual Merry-Go-Round

Published 8:12 am Friday, October 28, 2022

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On Thursday, State Representative Debbie Wood presented the city of Valley with a tourism grant of $10,400 for the annual Christmas Merry-Go-Round. 

“It’s definitely been an honor to serve the people in district 38,” Wood said. “But nothing brings me more joy than bringing money home to our community. There’s money that is there in Montgomery, and I try to find every dollar I can to bring home.”

According to Wood, this is the first year that the state opened a legislative tourism grant. The state budget allocated the Alabama Tourism Department $2,730,000 for promoting local and state-wide economies. 

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“Anytime you have an opportunity to get people from another community excited to get out and do things within the community, they spend money, and they support local businesses,” Wood said. “So without that, our businesses would shut the doors.”

In April, Wood reached out to the Chambers County Development Authority to encourage the community to apply. Project Manager Ansley Emfinger and Intern Andie Roberts wrote a grant application for Valley’s Merry-Go-Round. Valley Mayor Leonard Riley and Recreation Director Laurie Blount, who coordinates the event, were present to accept the grant.

Because of COVID-19, the state saw a disruption to out-of-state tourism and revenue to local businesses. The Legislative Tourism Grant is meant to stimulate out-of-state tourism. 

“It’s extremely important that we support local business,” Wood said. “We do everything we can in our power to push individuals towards our local businesses.”

The City of Valley was awarded four of Wood’s five grants, allocating $10,400 for the annual Merry-Go-Round. 

The annual Merry-Go-Round has been a Christmas tradition since 1956. According to the city of Valley, the holiday event brings people to the area every year. The carousel has had over three million riders over the past 10 years.The carousel is funded by private donations, local businesses and the city of Valley. 

“The Merry-Go-Round has had a long tradition and there are people that look forward to share the experience with their children and grandchildren,” Wood said.

For its 66th year, the Merry-Go-Round will be open from Nov. 27 to Dec. 24.