Downtown Action Committee

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The Downtown Action Committee was a civic organization active from 1961 to 1997 with the goal of supporting Downtown Birmingham as a retail, entertainment and visitor's destination. The group met over breakfast on Tuesday mornings and frequently heard from prominent city, county and business leaders. The group was also the customary audience for the mayor's annual State of the City address and the Jefferson County Commission's State of the County address.

The group was founded by retailer Ferd Weil, and Birmingham News Vice President Vincent Townsend Sr. Other notable members included Birmingham Post-Herald editor James Mills, businessman Fred Sington, theater operator Cecil Brown, talk show host Dave Campbell, Birmingham Parking Authority chair William Voigt, C. Mark Smith, Dorothy Chambers, and Ira Capps.

Among the Committee's early projects were downtown Christmas decorations, the Birmingham Christmas parade and signs with the slogan "It's Nice to Have You in Birmingham", and other civic improvement campaigns.

In October, 1964, after "War Eagle III" was found shot to death in Birmingham, the Downtown Action Committee presented the Auburn University student body with a golden eagle obtained from the Jackson Zoo in Mississippi. Also known as "Tiger", the mascot died of natural causes in 1980.

In 1984 the DAC sponsored a "Parking Meter Santa Claus" who put coins in expired meters during the holiday shopping season.

Other promotions included Downtown Farm Day, the Sidewalk Art Show, the Birmingham St Patrick's Day Parade, a bed race, Concerts on the Green, and Ladies Shopper Movie Parties at the Alabama Theatre.

In the 1990s the group coordinated the display of banners to promote sporting events, concerts and festivals.

In the 1980s the Downtown Action Committee launched the Downtown Farmers Market under the Elton B. Stephens Expressway at 1st Avenue North.

In 1996 the DAC considered merging with the YMBC Civic Forum. In January, 1997 just months after the death of founder Ferd Weil, the Downtown Action Committee folded.

References

  • Archibald, John (January 15, 1997) "Downtown Action Committee Dies of Inaction." The Birmingham News