WAXAHACHIE — In full bloom with summer-fun festivities, the 20th Annual Crape Myrtle Festival and Parade is celebrating with a two-day event during the week of the Fourth of July.

“The Crape Myrtle Festival is a family-friendly two-day event,” explained Bonney Ramsey, chair of the Crape Myrtle Festival and Parade for 13 years. “It began in 1997 after the Texas State Legislature named Waxahachie the designated ‘Crape Myrtle Capital of Texas.’ I think that this year is going to be the very best one that we’ve had.”

“The anticipation for this year is to be a big family and patriotic event,” expressed Laurie Mosley, Director of Waxahachie Convention and Visitors Bureau. “It’s going to be fun for everyone.”

What began 20 years ago has now grown into an Ellis County tradition. With a theme of “Pink Petals and Patriotism,” this year's celebration is scheduled for July 3-4.

“We’ve always had a children’s area, but the fact is that this year we are now calling it the ‘Kid Zone,’ and it’s free for the kids, and that’s one of our cool, new things,” Mosley explained the festival’s new milestone.

“If you wanted your child to do anything from the rock climbing wall to the bounce houses, it used to cost,” Ramsey chimed in. “But Baylor Scott and White Medical Center in Waxahachie have stepped up to the plate as a new sponsor and is taking care of it.”

Though the festival’s general admission to the public is free, Mosley noted that food vendors would have meals available for purchase or attendants can bring their own dinner from home.

In addition to the menu, Mosley and Ramsey both guarantee a good time as Madness Entertainment and the Def Leggend band take the stage for live performances with plenty of dance moves to share.

“Every year we have a concert, and this year we have a concert by Def Leggend, that’s ‘the World’s Greatest Tribute to Def Leppard.’ So we switched up the music, and we always try to have something for everyone,” Mosely described.

“And another thing that’s going to be incredible is Jon Bell who owns a company called Madness Entertainment,” Ramsey added. “He and his team have put together, in four minutes, like 60 dances that begin in 1920 and go all the way to the present.”

“I know some of the old dances,” she chuckled. “But to see him and his crew get out there and not only show it to everybody but teach it to people, families will get out there dance along – it’s going to be a blast!”

And as the festivities continue, the Fourth of July holiday will be honored through a night of fireworks and a morning parade.

“During the parade, we do it a little different, instead of putting our veterans at the front of the parade, we put them at the end so everybody can stand and salute them,” Mosley described.

“It really is emotional to see all these floats to go down Main Street with all the crape myrtles in bloom. Everybody has a flag in the front yard, and all the families are gathered – it’s just picture perfect,” she recollected last year’s effect. “It’s almost like it’s not even real, that’s how perfect it is, and it happens here in Waxahachie because of all the people that come together to celebrate our freedom.”

“At the very end of the parade, if you want to feel that patriotic tug at your heart, you just wait till you see those veterans coming down the street and people stand, yell and clap, and honor all these veterans,” Ramsey included. “I’ve seen people cry. I’ve had tears in my eyes. It’s so heartwarming.”

Before the parade, First Baptist Church will serve a veterans breakfast, while Remedy Church hosts “Picnic in the Park” lunch at Getzendaner Park with free hotdogs, water, snow cones and old-fashioned games.

As the festival is expecting hundreds to attend, Ramsey acknowledges the efforts dedicated to making this event a reality at the Waxahachie Sports Complex and in downtown.

“Our sponsors make all of this possible,” Ramsey complimented. “The Crape Myrtle Festival requires so many people to work together to pull it off. We are fortunate in Waxahachie that we have so many dedicated people that know what’s important for our city and that is one of the things I love about the festival - it brings that out.”

From Carlisle Chevrolet, Buick, GMC, and Cadillac sponsoring the concerts, to the ‘Kid Zone’ funded by Baylor Scott and White Medical Center in Waxahachie, along with HEB providing the fireworks show and Interbank supporting the tailgate party or Citizens National Bank of Texas is backing the parade, it takes a community to pull off the event, Ramsey comlimented.

“Also, during the fireworks, KBEC 1390 will provide patriotic music so that you can turn your car on and if you’re out in the Sports Complex, you can turn on beautiful music while the fireworks are going on,” Ramsey mentioned.

“And we couldn’t do it without the police and fire departments and the parks and recreation department or our three entities that represent this festival, and that is the Crape Myrtle Council, Waxahachie Chamber of Commerce and the City of Waxahachie,” she added.

Made possible by the city’s heartwarming service and charity-minded natives, the spirit of Waxahachie remains as strong as ever, honoring those who put everything on the line for today’s freedom.

“I hope everybody will get out and have a great time with their family and friends, and celebrate freedom in the safe environment that is Waxahachie,” Mosley recognized.

“It takes a lot of people in this town who want to give back to our city and love working on this festival and everything else that goes on here,” Ramsey extolled. "We want families to enjoy our wonderful designation of being the ‘Crape Myrtle Capital of Texas,' but we also want families to celebrate the Fourth of July. To me, this will be the best festival yet because this is hometown American, and I’m so proud to live here."

The patriotic celebration will begin on Monday, July 3 at 5 p.m. with the InterBank Tailgate Party at the Waxahachie Sports Complex, located at 151 Broadhead Road. On Tuesday, July 4, the celebration will continue at 10 a.m. with a hometown parade, starting on College Street, heading west on Main Street and ending at Getzendaner Park with the Remedy Church picnic.

To connect with the Waxahachie Convention and Visitors Bureau about the festival and parade, visit waxahachiecvb.com or call (469)-309- 4040.

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Chelsea Groomer, @ChelseaGroomer

(469)-517-1450