To the Editor,

The Waxahachie Chamber of Commerce, City of Waxahachie, and Crape Myrtle Council are very thankful to the citizens of Waxahachie, as well as all visitors, for participating in the 20th Annual Crape Myrtle Festival held July 3-4, 2017. The Festival celebrates our country’s Independence Day and the City of Waxahachie’s distinguished designation by the 75th Texas State Legislature in 1997 as the Crape Myrtle Capital of Texas. We cannot thank our now retired State Representative Jim Pitts enough for all of his help in securing the legislation that led to this designation for our city!

Each year a theme for the Festival is chosen by the Crape Myrtle Festival committee. The theme this year was, again, “Pink Petals & Patriotism.” The Festival’s tailgate party activities were held on Monday, July 3, at the Waxahachie Sports Complex. It is the perfect location for the Festival boasting grassy areas, wide-open spaces, lots of parking spaces, bathrooms, and a gentle breeze!

The patriotic celebration began when the gates of the Waxahachie Sports Complex opened at 5 p.m. to an estimated 3,000 attendees to set up their tents, tables, campers, and grills for an extraordinary tailgate party. As guests started arriving at the Complex, they were entertained by Jon Bell of Madness Entertainment. He and Warren Turner got kids and parents up to learn dance moves to some of the newest dance craze songs. Then, once again, InterBank sponsored the Tailgate Party and concert stage, as well as the Queen’s Tea and Queens’ Parade breakfast.

A new addition to the Festival was The Kid Zone sponsored by Baylor Scott & White Medical Center – Waxahachie with FREE activities for the children to enjoy. Brett Hartsell of First American Party Entertainment brought two bounce houses, two slides, and a rock climbing wall, Dana Elsom provided artistic balloon designs; and Ginny sills painted the faces of many children. There were also a variety of food vendors for families to purchase from in the Food Court, including a Panini truck, Kona Ice, Tommy Jones, Mr. Brisket, Flavor after Flavor; Pokey O’s ice cream sandwich truck, and HEB.

Then, at 7:30 p.m., the guests were treated to a concert by “Def Leggend,” the world’s greatest tribute band to Def Leppard, sponsored by Carlisle Chevrolet, Buick, GMC, & Cadillac. H-E-B sponsored the fireworks show, which began at 9:15 p.m. and this is the 19th year that H-E-B has been a vital part of the Crape Myrtle Festival! Our local radio station, KBEC 1390 AM, has always remotely broadcast patriotic music during the fireworks.

The Festival celebration continued on Monday, July 4, with the annual CNB of Texas hometown Fourth of July Parade, beginning at 10 a.m. with hundreds of citizens lining the parade route. The parade was led by members of the Waxahachie Police Department and Ellis County Sheriff’s Department, followed by a Boy Scout Troop. Again, we hosted a little over 100 Ellis County veterans who served as our Grand Marshals. The veterans were proudly positioned on decorated floats, along with spouses and guests, and requested to ride at the end of the parade. As they were driven on the parade route, citizens stood, applauded, and said “Thank you” to these wonderful citizens of our community. The veterans were from the Army, Army Signal Corp, Army Aviation, Air Force, Women’s Army Corp, Navy, Coast Guard, and the Marines. We proudly salute these outstanding Americans!

The parade also featured the Crape Myrtle Council; the 2017 Crape Myrtle Queen, Nancy Hightower; the former Crape Myrtle Queens: Bonney Ramsey, Shirley Williams, Dinah Weable, Teresa McNiel, Carol Farrar, Melissa Ballard, Cindy Hess, Sylvia Smith, and Sherry Dyess; the Spirit of Waxahachie Indian Band; and approximately 66 additional entries. Of those additional entries, the Waxahachie Indian Band consisted of 120 members; one entry for all of the veterans, their escorts, and drivers; one entry consisting of all of the equestrian members; and one entry made up of firetrucks from Waxahachie and surrounding counties. It was a great parade!!

After the parade, Remedy Church hosted “Picnic in the Park” in Getzendaner Park for families, along with free hotdogs, water, snow cones, old fashioned games, and a bounce house. A “Wiffle Ball Home Run Derby” was held during the picnic.

The winners of this year’s Fourth of July Parade by category are Auto/Motorcycles/Tractors: 1st‒ Texas Scooter Club, 2nd‒ Dallas Model A Club, and 3rd‒ Raymond Escobar; Corporate: 1st‒ Theresa Peel, 2nd‒ Citizens National Bank of Texas; and 3rd‒ H-E-B; Nonprofit: 1st‒ Remedy Church, 2nd‒ Christ the King Lutheran, and 3rd‒ Sims Library; Youth: 1st‒ Waxahachie High School, and 2nd‒ Oma’s Jiffy Burger; and Equestrian: Ellis County Sheriff’s Posse.

Obviously, it takes a lot of people to pull off an extraordinary event like the Crape Myrtle Festival! In fact, it truly “takes a village” with help from the Waxahachie Chamber of Commerce, the City of Waxahachie, the Crape Myrtle Council, the Waxahachie Convention & Visitors Bureau Director, Laurie Mosley, for all pre and post publicity; the City of Waxahachie Tourism & Event Manager, Monica Boyd; and, weekly KBEC 1390 AM radio spots and its simulcast during the H-E-B Fireworks Show through the band’s speakers. Also, a big thank you to Rodney Kent for assisting the Crape Myrtle Queens with a tailgate party set-up. We also want to thank all of the committee members who worked tirelessly on the event.

Other important contributors to the tailgate party and fireworks show who are due many thanks are: Dr. Robert P. and Pam Roye of the Regional Orthopedic and Sports Medicine Center for the use of their land for the fireworks; Police Chief Wade Goolsby and the Waxahachie Police Department for handling the safety of all guests, Fire Chief Ricky Boyd, Randall Potter, and the Waxahachie Fire Department and their team for handling the fireworks show; Parks & Recreation Director John Smith, James Villarreal, Wally Mendez and the great staff of the Waxahachie Sports Complex for preparing the grounds for the event, namely Rufus and Reuben; and Marcus Brown, Emergency Management Coordinator, for preparing an emergency plan for the Crape Myrtle Festival; and the Crape Myrtle Festival committee members.

The Fourth of July parade was outstanding due to the special parade committee consisting of John Smith, Melissa Ballard, Monica Boyd, and Marcus Brown who organized and managed the line-up of all of the parade participants. This is a huge undertaking every year and this committee does an incredible job! Also, on hand to help with the parade were Laurie Mosley, Monica Boyd, and Judges Chelsea Klepfer, as well as Sandy King and Victoria Martinelli of the Waxahachie Chamber of Commerce.

A big thank you to the First Baptist Church, under the direction of Carol Calvert, and members of the Military Ministry Team who provided the Dan McClinton Veterans Memorial Breakfast for all of the veterans before the parade began. There were veterans and others totaling about 130 people who attended the breakfast. We cannot thank Perry Giles and David Hudgins enough for providing and coordinating all of the transportation for the veterans. The drivers of the trailers for the Veterans were David Hudgins (in his car with a WWII vet), Perry Giles, Mike Ashmore, Wes Duke, Kevin Strength, David Hill, Steve Wylie, David Compton, and Gary Myers. Other volunteers that helped were Duff Morrow, David Box, Nora Harper, Stan Parker, Steward Powers, Kevin Cooke, and Donny Mosley. Also helping were the Boy Scouts of Troop 232 and the Patriot Guard Riders and their Ride Captain, Rick Crabb. And, a big thank you to the bus transportation provided by the Brown Street Church of Christ, the First Baptist Church, and the Waxahachie ISD. These movers were used to bring the veterans back to the Baptist Church after the parade. Perry Giles reported “My favorite sight of the parade was when we crossed Elm Street. The policeman that was holding traffic at the red light walked over to my trailer and gave a fist bump to all of the veterans. I watched it through my rear view mirror. I only wish I had a picture of that.” So, if any of you are reading this letter and took a picture of that scene, will you please contact the Daily Light.

WOW! Words cannot express how wonderful it is to see people so kind-hearted in our historic city who volunteer their time and talents to help those who helped all of us be assured of freedom in our city, state, and country. Veterans, we love you and your families and we are blessed by your service!

Special thanks, again to our sponsors!! And a special thanks to Tom McAfee for providing the convertible for the 2017 Citizen of the Year, Teresa McNiel; Kaki Jenkins for providing the car for the new Crape Myrtle Queen (her mom), Nancy Hightower; Ann Montgomery for providing the convertible for the Crape Myrtle Council: Jane Hamilton and Laura Sanders; and, SAGU for providing the super-sized golf cart driven by Layne Ballard for the former Crape Myrtle Queens: Dinah Weable, Teresa McNiel, Shirley Williams (Crape Myrtle Council), Carol Farrar, Melissa Ballard, Cindy Hess, Sylvia Smith, Sherry Dyess, and Bonney Ramsey (Crape Myrtle Council). A special thank you to Katherine Sirchia and Janet Magee of InterBank who provided a gourmet breakfast for the Crape Myrtle Queens before the parade. A parade would be nothing without a band…thank you, Rich Armstrong and the fantastic Spirit of Waxahachie Indian Band, and all of the participants in the parade. Many thanks to Citizens National Bank of Texas for sponsoring the ribbons for winners of the Fourth of July Parade.

And, a big thank you to Bryan Wooten and Remedy Church who sponsored “Picnic in the Park.” We also want to thank Scott Brooks, Publisher, of the Waxahachie Daily Light (WDL), for putting the Crape Myrtle Parade and Veteran’s Parade Forms in the newspaper. Many thanks go to WDL staff, Chelsea Groomer, for providing outstanding and exceptional newspaper coverage of the Queen’s Tea and the Crape Myrtle Festival. The many articles and photographs published painted a “picture perfect” image of the entire Festival.

The 20th Annual Crape Myrtle Festival was, once again, a huge success because of the unselfish efforts of so many people, as well as the participation of all individuals and families who supported and attended this event. Please make plans for next year’s Crape Myrtle Festival…it will be the 21st year to celebrate!!

Bonney Ramsey, Chair, 20th Annual Crape Myrtle Festival