The Waxahachie Chautauqua Preservation Society and Mid-Way Regional Airport have teamed up to showcase a little bit of local history at this year’s Fourth of July parade.
The two have created a float to honor the city’s connection to aviation, which will feature an actor playing the part of Bessie Coleman.
Coleman, the first female African-American pilot, grew up in Waxahachie and earned her pilot’s license in France in 1921. After earning her wings, Coleman came back to Waxahachie on Sept. 26, 1925, to perform exhibition flights on the Trinity University athletic field, which is now the home of Southwestern Assemblies of God University.
The float will also serve as a rolling advertisement of the The Waxahachie Chautauqua Preservation Society’s annual Chautauqua Assembly, which is scheduled from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sept. 26 in Getzendaner Park. The theme for this year’s Assembly is “Chautauqua Celebrates Flight.”
“It is an all-day event, which celebrates flight in many ways. The first being our keynote speaker, which is Apollo 13 astronaut Fred Haise. Another is an actor who is coming from Atlanta to portray Bessie Coleman,” said Mauren Moore, Chautauqua Assembly chairperson.
Atlanta actress Joanna Maddox will portray Coleman during the Chautauqua Assembly and is also scheduled to make some stops at local elementary schools in the weeks leading up to the Preservation Society’s event.
Portraying Coleman in the parade will be local resident Sheila Davis, who will be aboard the float with a biplane modeled after the one Coleman flew during her exhibitions. Joining Davis on the float will be Collin Vincent with Southern Star Aviation, who will be dressed as an astronaut.
Prior to the Assembly, Mid-Way Regional Airport will honor Coleman with the dedication of a plaque to be installed on the airport grounds.
“The day of the Chautauqua Assembly is the 90th anniversary of her flyover of Waxahachie, so we are going to do a plaque at the airport commemorating the event,” said Judy Demoney, Mid-Way Regional Airport manager. “There is the commemorative plaque in town, but nothing at the airport. That is something we have been wanting to do.”
Included in the “Chautauqua Celebrates Flight” event will be musical and historical programs, an art display of Leonardo da Vinci’s work on flying machines and birds. Last Chance Forever’s birds of prey show, a regular demonstration at Scarborough Renaissance Festival, will also be on exhibit at the Assembly.
“We will have more details coming up about our joint event as we get closer to September,” Demoney said. “Keep your calendars open for Sept. 25 and 26th.”
The Waxahachie Chautauqua Preservation Society and airport members invite the public to walk with them alongside their float in the parade. Anyone wanting to participate should wear red, white and blue and are encouraged to wear comfortable shoes.
Those joining the groups’ float will need to be at the parade starting pointing at 9 a.m. Saturday on College Street.
The Fourth of July parade will kick off at 10 a.m. Saturday starting on College Street. For more information about the Chautauqua Assembly, visit www.waxahachiechautauqua.org. For more information about the parade go to the Waxahachie Chamber of Commerce website at www.waxahachiechamber.com.