Azalea Festival blossoms with activity

TUPELO – Veterans Park had something for everyone to do Saturday.
Whether scavenging for eggs, buying azaleas or showing patriotism, no one was left out of the loop.
The site of the 9th Annual Azalea Festival, Veterans Park also hosted kite flying, a veterans ceremony and annual Tupelo Freewill Baptist Church Easter Egg Hunt.
Hundreds of people piled into the park to enjoy the festivities. Vehicles filled the parking lots and roadsides as festival patrons funneled into the park to enjoy the day’s events.
While the children got ready to hunt for the 16,000 candied eggs strewn through the park, dozens of people sat in on the veterans ceremony. Carlyle “Smitty” Harris, a former prisoner of war and the guest speaker, gave the crowd a quick lesson in patriotism.
“This ceremony represents the veterans who’ve served their country,” Harris told the crowd. “It is veterans who know there is no greater responsibility or privilege than defending the United States of America. I’m proud to be an American.”
Even though he’s never served in the military, 62-year-old James Knight of Booneville said he could relate to Harris’s speech.
“I have sons who have served this country well and they were proud to do it,” said Knight. “Like Mr. Harris said, there is no better place on earth than America.”
Oblivious to what was going on in the rest of the park, droves of candy-hungry youngsters prepared for the egg hunt. Their targets: thousands of colorful eggs that were littered throughout the park.
When “Go hunt eggs” was shouted, youthful anticipation turned quickly into a frenzied pursuit for the Easter goodies.
It took hours to fill the plastic eggs, but less than 20 minutes to clear the fields.
“They moved through like a swarm of locusts,” Jamal Anderson said. “Man, those little rascals covered a lot of ground. They picked that field clean. I wish I could get my kids to take that approach with yard work.”
Hundreds of people also piled into Ballard Park for the Orchard’s annual egg hunt. Even though it didn’t begin until 10 a.m., there were hardly any parking spaces left by 9:30.

Contact Danza Johnson at 662.678.1583 or danza.johnson@djournal.com

Danza Johnson/Daily Journal