December 6, 2012
weekend for 175th
Holly Springs showcased its festive side last weekend.
The community turnout and participation for the 175th anniversary of the city and celebration of Christmas and the annual Tour of Homes were a resounding success, organizers said.
The event opened Friday night with Mayor Andre’ DeBerry providing a history of the town and welcome on the courthouse lawn. Beside him was U.S. Senator Roger Wicker, whose ancestors are from Marshall County as are DeBerry’s.
The mayor said he is a descendent of a South Carolina slave (his great-great-grandmother) who was brought to the area.
Holly Springs is the birthplace of human rights activist Ida B. Wells Barnett and artist Kate Freeman Clark. It is also the home to Rust College, Mississippi Industrial College, Chalmers Institute, the yellow fever martyrs, 16 generals of the Confederacy, plus it’s the resting place of Hiram Revels, the first African American to serve in the United States Senate.
The mayor read a brief history of the town excerpted as follows:
Six million acres of land became available for settlement following the Chickasaw Cession to the United States in 1832. Advertised widely as “Cotton’s Last Frontier,” the Chickasaw Cession became the focal point for investment and speculation. Marshall County was created by legislative act on February 9, 1836, and quickly achieved a position of eminence as “the Empire County.”
A crude tavern stood on the town site in 1835. A West Tennessee trader, W.S. Randolph, formed a partnership with 19 other men to develop the town. Holly Springs was incorporated May 12, 1837. Already a miniature cotton capital with churches, schools and many businesses, the city was the third largest in the state – superceded by Natchez and Vicksburg.
“Today, the city is framed by wooded hillsides and dogwood blooms. Birdwatchers and nature lovers revel in the beauty of Strawberry Plains Audubon Center. There is no telling how long people have been pulling crappie out of Chewalla Lake and Wall Doxey State Park Lake. And Holly Springs National Park rustles with the challenge of wild game.
“Let us continue to advance our city into the 21st Century, while we continue to reclaim and connect to our historical roots,” DeBerry said.
Wicker was overjoyed to participate in the opening ceremony and to represent the city in Washington, D.C.
The first Wickers came to the county 160 years ago, he said, from North Carolina.
“It is special to me as a North Mississippi boy to be part of this occasion,” he said. “It is time to celebrate community, economic development, and a little commerce for Marshall County and Holly Springs.”
Saturday was a day of frivolity with warm weather keeping children and parents on the square to enjoy looking at a lineup of about 62 antique cars, a show organized by George Poteet. Other entertainment during the day included gospel singing, hip hop, and school bands.
Lakisha Buffington, with the Holly Springs Tourism Bureau, described the day as “fun, exciting.”
The weather was a big plus, she said, to keep families downtown.
The children enjoyed the food vendors while adults gravitated to the restaurants to sit and eat.
It was a great day topped off by the Christmas parade led by grand marshal Nancy Hutchens.
Just over 40 entries joined the parade.
“I think it was great to accompany the Christmas Tours,” Buffington said. “Overall, it was a fun and exciting day for Holly Springs and a very diverse crowd.”
Gospel praise groups, hip hop groups, and the Galena Band helped draw lots of people to the square, she said.
Main Street Chamber director Shanette Folsom loved seeing the kids come out to have a good time and loved the parade.
“What a wonderful job Mr. Poteet did getting the antique car show organized,” she said. “It was a weekend of entertainment and fun.”
Greg Campbell, who with Annie Moffitt, served as emcee for the parade, said the weekend held something for everybody.
“There was standing room only downtown for the parade,” he said.
Included in this year’s parade were antique tractors and cars, horses, floats, a motorcycle and fire trucks, as well as show cars.
Float winners were first place, MTC (Management and Training Corporation – Marshall County Correctional Facility); second, Marshall County Search and Rescue; and third, Victoria Volunteer Fire Department.
The weekend, highlighted by the Christmas in Holly Springs Tour of Homes sponsored by the Marshall County Historical Museum, concluded with the 15th annual Christmas Concert by the Rust College A’Cappella Choir in Morehouse Auditorium on campus.
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