Sweet Home Alabama Tree returns to welcome center

Published 9:00 am Friday, December 8, 2023

LANETT — The Sweet Home Alabama Christmas tree is up at the Alabama Welcome Center on I-85, and everyone is invited to come by and see it. Its ornaments depict almost every sweet-tasting food imaginable. “We put a couple of new ornaments on it every year,” said Melinda Edwards of the Welcome Center staff. “We also have a precious angel on top of the tree. She watches after everyone here.”

An ideal time to come and see the Sweet Home Alabama tree will be at this year’s Christmas Open House. It will be taking place from 10 a.m. until 3 p.m. EST on Thursday, December 14th. “We want everyone to come by and join in the holiday fun,” said Welcome Center Manager Laura Smith. “Come and enjoy networking opportunities for your business, or just enjoy mingling with people. Light refreshments will be served.”

The Sweet Home Alabama tree has small packages of Skittles and ornaments of candy canes, ice cream cones, snow cones, a bubblegum machine, a mixer to make cakes, a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, donuts, cookies, lollipops and gingerbread men.

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“We love putting up this tree every year,” Edwards said. “We have really filled it up this time with all the ornaments we have. We may have to get us a bigger tree for next year.”

The $2 million Lanett Welcome Center was dedicated in January 2022. It’s the newest and most modern welcome center in Alabama and will serve as the model for future welcome center development in the state. It’s an extraordinary building right here in our backyard and plays host to hundreds of out-of-state visitors every day. Those who live own the local area and have never been there don’t know what they are missing. Inside is an enormous TV screen that shows all kinds of interesting places to go and things to do in Alabama.

Everyone visiting the welcome center will want to see the Christmas season scenes on the main counter in the lobby. There’s a gingerbread village and a group of Charles Dickens era carolers.

The welcome center on I-85 is one of eight such stopping places in Alabama. Six of them are on Interstate highways. One is in Cleburne County on I-20 at the Alabama-Georgia line, another one is off I-59 at the Alabama-Georgia line near Valley Head, and one is on I-65 near the Alabama-Tennessee line at Ardmore, Alabama. Two Alabama welcome centers are on I-10 in south Alabama, one near the Alabama-Mississippi line and another at the Alabama-Florida line. Two Alabama welcome centers are not on Interstate highways; one is on US 80 in Sumter County near the Mississippi line and another on US 231 on the Alabama-Florida line near Dothan.