When a celebrity like James Spann is scheduled to pay you a visit, it’s only fitting that the weather has a direct impact on how that visit takes place.
Spann is Alabama’s preeminent weatherman, the chief meteorologist for ABC 33/40 out of Birmingham and orchestrator of a Facebook page that is closing in on 1 million followers.
But even with all of those accolades – or more accurately, because of them – Spann is just as much at the mercy of the weather as the rest of us.
He made an appearance at First Light Coffee in Wedowee Saturday, selling T-shirts and hats and books, autographing those items and visiting with the 200-plus folks who came to meet the man famous for his suspenders and his “Respect the Polygon” mantra.
“I thought it was pretty awesome. Mr. James is like a celebrity in Alabama,” said Kaylee Boyd, the manager of First Light.
Spann was originally scheduled to appear in Wedowee the week prior, on April 1. But the weather caused that to be postponed.
“That Friday night there was severe weather, so he had to pull an all-nighter at the studio,” Boyd said. “So we rescheduled it to a week later. But the week of, his manager was adamant about texting me and letting me know what’s going on. They rescheduled the date immediately, so they were very quick to make sure they were able to come.”
That courtesy and professionalism is in line with Spann’s online persona. And it was evident in his interactions with everyone who showed up in Wedowee Saturday. Spann appeared to try to have genuine, meaningful interactions with everyone who came through the line, often spending 5 or 10 minutes with each one.
Most visitors came from Randolph County or the surrounding areas, but Boyd said one family drove all the way from Tennessee meet Spann.
“It was their son’s birthday, and he wanted to meet James Spann. So they drove in early that morning and got here right when we opened,” Boyd said.
Other than being available and willing to host Spann, First Light didn’t have a major role in arranging the event. The coffee shop, which is owned by Jessica Williams and has been open for nearly three years, was approached by Spann’s people as a possible destination for a Randolph County visit.
“They actually reached out to us,” Boyd said. “James Spann’s manager reached out to us, called us a few weeks ago and said that they’d seen us social media, and they go to different small businesses in Alabama to help promote us, as well as them. He actually called me and we were able to set something up.”
It was a big boost for a local business that has already found itself on an upward trajectory. The shop opened in the summer of 2020 and soon began roasting and selling its own coffee beans, in addition to selling breakfast and lunch items.
They have also recently announced an expansion to a second location, which will be in Roanoke in the former Gerson’s Garden building on Main Street. They are hopeful that that location will be open by the end of the summer.