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 18th Annual Crape Myrtle Festival held July 3-4.  he 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 Friday, 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 cooling breeze!

The gates of the Waxahachie Sports Complex opened at 5 p.m. to an estimated 2,000-4,000 attendees to set up their tents, tables, campers, and grills for an extraordinary tailgate party.  Once again, InterBank sponsored the tailgate party and concert stage, as well as the Queen’s Tea and Queens’ parade breakfast. Carlisle Chevrolet, Buick, GMC, & Cadillac sponsored the concert featuring “FastLane,” a Dallas Eagles Tribute Band, as well as the sound system; H-E-B sponsored the fireworks show, which began at 9:15 p.m.  This is the 17th year that H-E-B has been a vital part of the Crape Myrtle Festival!  Our local radio station, KBEC 1390, partnered with us this year as they celebrated their 60th anniversary. KBEC 1390 has always remotely broadcast patriotic music during the fireworks … we were honored to have their presence at the Sports Complex this year. To complete the Festival, we had many vendors providing food, as well as activities for children.

The Festival continued on Saturday, July 4, with the annual Fourth of July Parade, beginning at 10 a.m. with thousands 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 97 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 city of Waxahachie’s Mayor; the Outstanding Citizen of the Year; the Crape Myrtle Council; the 2015 Crape Myrtle Queen; the former Crape Myrtle Queens; 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!

The winners of this year’s Fourth of July Parade by category are Auto/Motorcycles/Tractors: 1st - Morris Jenkins Auto, 2nd - Waxahachie Biking Club, and 3rd - Cabana Boys & The Pink Kitties; Corporate: 1st - H-E-B, 2nd - Kip Fedora State Farm; and 3rd - Citizens National Bank of Texas; Nonprofit: 1st - Christ the King Lutheran Church, 2nd - Remedy Church, and 3rd - Mid-Way Airport and Chautauqua Preservation Society; and Youth: 1st - Pettigrew Academy, 2nd - Girl Scout Troop 878 and 3rd - Cub Scout Troup 232. Job well done!

Obviously, it takes a lot of people to pull off an extraordinary event like the Crape Myrtle Festival!  One cannot say enough about the fine work of 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; weekly KBEC 1390 AM radio spots and its simulcast during the H-E-B Fireworks Show through the band’s speakers, which was incredible; and area billboards .. .on hand at every Crape Myrtle event ...job well done! 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 who are due many thanks are: Dr. Robert P. and Pam Roye of the Regional Orthopedic and Sports Medicine Center; the Waxahachie Police Department, the Waxahachie Fire Department; John Smith, James Villarreal, and the great staff of the Waxahachie Sports Complex and Parks Department for preparing the grounds for the event; Ricky Boyd, Fire Chief, and Randall Potter, Assistant Fire Chief, and their team for handling the fireworks show; Polo Peralta, Gary Busby, and Newell Sink from Citizens National Bank of Texas who assisted in the decoration of the stage with the use of the bank’s bucket truck; and the Crape Myrtle Festival committee members.

The Fourth of July parade was outstanding due to the special parade committee consisting of Ricky Boyd, Melissa Ballard, John Smith, and Ferne Lyle 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; Debra Wakeland, President and CEO of the Waxahachie Chamber of Commerce; Judges: Fercina Bridges, Jeanie Blake, and Claudia James; and Chamber staff: Karen Maxwell, Sandy King, and Katie Harwell.

A big thank you to the First Baptist Church, under the direction 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 96 veterans and others totaling 127 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. Those assisting with the Veterans floats were: Perry Giles, Duff Morrow, David Hudgins, Mike Ashmore, Wes Duke, Brent Strength, Kevin Strength, Jon and Darla Wilson, Glen Morrill, Jim Lawton, Don Martin, Marcus Payne, Layne Ballard, David Box, Stan and Priscilla Parker, Nora Harper, Neal White, Donny Mosley, Ferne Lyle, and Adam Sias.

The Ellis County Young Marines carried the veterans’ banner and assisted the veterans, along with Mike Miller, Tim Davis, Makayla Miller, R. J. Weir, Chadika Obinwa, Alex Roderiguez, Yelena Rodriquez, and Priscilla Rodriguez. Boy Scout Troop 232 carried the service flags with Scout Leaders Chris Autry and John Latham.

Transportation and chairs were provided by the Brown Street Church of Christ and bus drivers were Rodney Kent, Kevin Cooke and Harry Walden. Also, Jim Jenkins and Roger Martinez drove buses from the First Baptist Church. Fire Chief Ricky Boyd provided a Waxahachie Fire Department trailer and vehicle for a veteran’s float.  Victory Baptist Church and Covenant Life Church allowed the use of their parking lot for all of the veterans’ floats before the parade. The Patriot Guard Riders assisted in loading and unloading the veterans onto the trailers and buses. The veterans were led in the parade by Ride Captain Rick and Jenette Crabb and 65 other Patriot Guard members.

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 to Samantha Strength for providing the convertible for her father, Kevin Strength, Mayor of Waxahachie; Michael Cloonen for providing the convertible for Bob Dyess, Outstanding Citizen of the Year; Kaki Jenkins for providing the convertible for the Crape Myrtle Council members: Nancy Hightower, Jane Hamilton, Laura Sanders, and Patsy Major; Samantha Meade for providing the convertible for the 2015 Crape Myrtle Queen: Sylvia Smith; and Kathy Smith and Denise Kopp for providing the convertibles for the former Crape Myrtle Queens: Dinah Weable, Teresa McNiel, Shirley Williams (Crape Myrtle Council), Carol Farrar, Melissa Ballard, Cindy Hess, 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.

A big thank you to Bryan Wooten and Remedy Church for providing free hot dogs, bottled water, and snow cones for parade participants as the parade ended at Getzendaner Park. There were also many activities for children and adults. We also want to thank Neal White, Editor, and Scott Brooks, Publisher, of the Waxahachie Daily Light (WDL), for putting the Crape Myrtle Parade and Veteran’s Parade Forms in the newspaper. Thank you, Neal, for writing such a heartfelt message about the veterans.  This coverage helped get the word out, especially to veterans, about signing up to ride in the parade!  Many thanks goes to WDL staff, in particular, Shelly Conlon, Andrew Branca, Scott Dorsett, and Aaron Swadaderer for providing outstanding and exceptional newspaper coverage of the Crape Myrtle Festival.  The many articles and photographs published painted a “picture perfect” image of the entire Festival.

The 2015 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!

Bonney Ramsey, Chair

2015 Crape Myrtle Festival