PIGGOTT, AR (KAIT) - For over 85 years the town of Piggott has been celebrating the 4th of July with the annual parade and picnic.
From politicians to a monkey on a pony to fire trucks and beauty queens the annual ride through the town is an integral part of Piggott's 4th celebration.
Many see this as a homecoming celebration with family groups celebrating together.
This years Grand Marshall, was James Haywood, a World War 2 vet and as he says, the "only submariner from Clay county." Haywood sat in a red convertible at the front of the line. His blue plumed hat and blue vest were covered with patches and pins from the World War 2 Submarine Service Association. Haywood says he left Piggott when he was 17 and joined the navy at 19. Although he lives in California, he comes back nearly every year for the parade and picnic. "Piggott," he says, "Is a great place to spend the 4th. "
Haywood, "We come back just about every year for the 4th of July Picnic. I've lived in Sacramento for 70 years but I still come back here, I have 3 sisters and 2 brothers here."
Small town 4th of July celebrations are one of the best kept secrets in America..Liberty Hobbs, who by the way has an uncle named Freedom, says the Piggott parade and picnic is the best.
Hobbs, "The best thing about the picnic is that you get to ride rides and the second thing about the parade is that you get to get candy."
Like nearly all the participants James Haywood was tossing out candy to kids that lined the street. I asked him why he likes the holiday so much.
Haywood, "It's second only to Veterans Day to me (why so?) Because it's American, American Pie and the American Dream all in the 4th of July, all rolled into one."
During World War 2 Piggott raised over 80 Thousand Dollars in war bonds to buy a P47 fighter. Piggott's Mayor Gerald Morris accepted a model of that plane from Joe Cole to be displayed at city hall.
When asked how many picnics have been celebrated Morris says it depends.
Morris, "There is a confusion, some say it is 84 and some say it is 88 or 89 it depends on where you start counting."Morris says it's 84 years at the present location but there were picnics at other locations around town before the picnic grounds were made.
Mainline Union Pacific tracks run right through Piggott, 3 times freights stopped the parade.
At least they had flags on the locomotives.
It wouldn't be the fourth without speeches and several political figures and candidates were in town including governor Mike Beebe. And beauty queens from all ages with tiaras shining and smiles glowing.
Things that roll are also a popular part of parades, from giant tractors and classic tractors, to hot rods and classic cars and other motorized vehicles. A special non-wheeled attraction was a camel and a monkey riding a pony. Cowboys and cowgirls on horses finished up the parade with a person wielding a scoop shovel cleaning up after them.
The picnic had a huge crowd after the parade but mother nature decided to have some fun and the rain moved in with a vengeance.
Morris, "I'm sure a lot of farmers in our area are happy to get the rain but the picnickers for today are sad to see the rain."
Fortunately, the rain only lasted a little while and the fun resumed.