By Katie Nichols (Contact) | Selma Times-Journal

Published Tuesday, February 24, 2009

After the January announcement that the Battle of Selma reenactment would continue, James Hammonds and volunteers have worked to make sure the declaration becomes reality.

Much has developed in the past weeks, including the scale of this year’s reenactment.

“We’ll have one school day on Friday [April 17], a reenactment Saturday, the ball Saturday night and then the Battle of Selma Sunday,” Hammonds said. “In the past we have had two schools–one on Thursday and one on Friday-but this year we decided to scale back.”

The planning usually takes place all year, but it will have to be done in only 12 weeks.

Hammonds said that this year’s planning has almost caught up with where it is supposed to be, but it has taken a lot of work.

“I’ve probably worked 10 hours every day since taking this on,” he said. “Everyone’s work is paying off, though. It should be a great year.”

Volunteers include eight past Kiwanis presidents, Battle of Selma Board members and many more.

Mayor George Evans helped ease the workload by asking the Alabama Division of Reenactors at their annual meeting to participate in the Battle of Selma.

Hammonds has contacted several reenacting groups and said the response back has been very good.

Three units — Jefferson Davis Artillery from Selma, the Fourth Alabama Infantry and the 31st Alabama Infantry — will host the other reenacting groups.

Favorite vendors will return this year and keep the tradition of period vendors inside the park and modern vendors outside the main entrance.

Hammonds also plans to set up a nonprofit organization for the Battle of Selma to ensure the continuation of the reenactment.

Candace Johnson, director of tourism for Selma-Dallas County, looks forward to the Battle of Selma and the tourists it will bring to Selma.

“I’m very excited and encouraged about the progress that has been made,” she said. “It has taken a lot of man power, but the volunteers are very passionate about the Battle of Selma. It was a big loss when we thought it wouldn’t happen this year, but now we will have people coming to Selma and we won’t lose that other part of our history.”