In its 10th year, Waxahachie’s annual Crape Myrtle Festival will be held once again on the Fourth of July weekend just as the crape myrtles are in full bloom. Officially known as the Crape Myrtle Festival and Parade, the theme for this year will be “Pink Petals and Patriotism.”

Discussing the event’s highlights, chairman Bonnie Ramsey said a children’s climbing wall has been added to the July 3 evening activities. She also announced that the July 4 parade marshals are Bill and Charlene Pitts.

“We are going to have a wonderful couple,” she said. “He served in WW II and both he and his wife are history buffs. They talk to children all the time and they are just delightful.”

The celebration begins at 6 p.m. Tuesday, July 3, with a tailgate party in the parking lot of Lumpkins Stadium. A local band, “Lone Star Glory,” which Ramsey says is “a wonderful band that can play just about anything,” will perform on the stage directly in front of the concession area beginning at 7 p.m. The concert is presented by Chicago Title Insurance Company as represented by Trinity Abstract & Title Co and, as in years past, spectators may bring lawn chairs and barbecue grills as part of the celebration.

The children’s climbing wall will be available in the Lumpkins Stadium parking lot along with the various concessions stands.

KBEC will broadcast live from the event, and after the concert, H-E-B will host a fireworks display.

The celebration continues July 4 with the annual parade starting at 10 a.m. on College Street before heading east on West Main Street, turning left on Grand and ending at Getzendaner Park.

The festival’s new queen is to be crowned at the queen’s tea on Friday, June 29.

“I can’t tell you who that is because it is a surprise,” Ramsey said during an interview in late May. “We don’t crown the new queen until the queen’s tea and it is always held on Friday or the Sunday before July 4.”

Waxahachie is the Crape Myrtle Capital of Texas, as designated by the state Legislature. In addition to the state’s designation, Ramsey and Nancy Hightower, chairman of the Crape Myrtle Council, went before the Waxahachie City Council on May 8, with the council passing a proclamation declaring June 4 to July 4, 2007, as Crape Myrtle Month.

It was in 1997 that the state Legislature declared Waxahachie as the Crape Myrtle Capital of Texas.

“Rep. Jim Pitts of Waxahachie was instrumental in helping us secure that title,” Ramsey said.

The crape myrtle has been categorized as a naturalized plant of the United States and has also been designated as the official shrub for the state of Texas.

Crape myrtles (Lagerstroemia) are originally native to southern Asia, but are very well adapted to Texas, especially East Texas, where full sun helps create the finest blooms. The plant is grown mainly for its flowers. It has sinewy, fluted stems and branches that shed every year.

The flowers usually bloom in the summer and are panicles of crinkled flowers with a crepe-like texture. The flowers can be found in a variety of colors, including pink, mauve and white. The fruit on the crape myrtle tree begins as a greenish color, but eventually ripens to a black.

For more details on enjoying the crape myrtles in Waxahachie, contact the Chamber of Commerce for information about its driving trail. Maps can also be found at the Heritage Visitor Center inside the Ellis County Museum.

The Crape Myrtle Festival and Parade are free to the public.

Additional community sponsors include the Crape Myrtle Council and the Waxahachie Chamber of Commerce & CVB.