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The reenactment of Madison Christmas Capers is scheduled for 5 p.m. on Dec. 14 downtown on Main Street. The vintage photo shows the crowd gathered to catch the free chickens with gift certificates attached. CONTRIBUTED

Christmas Capers reenacts chicken toss with prizes

MADISON – Re-creating one of the community’s most unique traditions, Madison Christmas Capers will be presented downtown on Dec. 14.

The reenactment scheduled for 5 p.m. coincides with the kickoff of the Madison Christmas Parade.

“Please join the City of Madison and the Madison Sesquicentennial Committee as we celebrate Madison’s 150th and Alabama’s 200th anniversary,” committee co-chair Debbie Overcash said.

At 5 p.m., the Sesquicentennial Committee will serve 150th birthday cake and cupcakes to spectators. Rotary Club of Madison will offer hot chocolate, while city streets will echo the melodies of Madison City Community Orchestra.

Bebe Oetjen, former Madison City Commissioner, will share a historic display at Opie Balch Realty, 106 Main St.

At 5:30 p.m., Larry Anderson and Walt Anderson, grandsons of ‘Doc’ Hughes, will reenact the Christmas Capers. From the balcony of Hughes Hardware, the Andersons will throw rubber chickens with gift vouchers tied to their legs. Gift vouchers’ value exceeds $3,000.

The capers have an interesting narrative that dates to 1925 when George Walton ‘Doc’ Hughes rented the Humphrey-Hughes property at 200 Main Street for his drug store business. Doc Hughes operated the drug store until 1972.

During years of the Great Depression in the early 1930s, Hughes started a holiday tradition dubbed the “Christmas Chicken Capers,” according to “Madison Station, Historic Downtown Madison, 1856-2015” by Madison Station Historical Preservation Society.

On Christmas Eve, ‘Doc’ Hughes would toss live chickens from the roof. The chickens had tags attached to their legs; people could redeem the tags for prizes in Hughes’ store. Anyone who caught the chickens (sometimes turkeys, some people say) received the prizes and kept the chicken for Christmas dinner.

Also at 5:30 p.m. on Dec. 14, the Madison Christmas Parade with the 2019 theme, “Madison Polar Express,” will depart Plaza Boulevard, proceed south on Hughes Road, west on Mill Road and south on Church Street to reach downtown.

Helping with the event are Mayor Paul Finley, Madison City Council, Madison Parks and Recreation, Madison Police Department, Madison Downtown Merchants, Madison Station Historical Preservation Society, Rotary Club of Madison, Madison City Community Orchestra and Todd Phillips.

Prize sponsors include Huntsville International Airport, Belk, City of Madison, Madison Family Dentistry, Amy Thompson Dentistry, Brock’s Jewelry, Opie Balch Realty, Grogan Jewelers, The Morris Team – Keller Williams, Old Black Bear Brewing Company, Heritage Florist, Drury Inn and Suites, Pat Glenn Legend Realty, Yellowhammer Brewery, Taziki’s Mediterranean Cafe, U.S. Space and Rocket Center, Huntsville Botanical Garden and Redstone Federal Credit Union.

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