Picnic kicks off weekend traditions

TUPELO – Saturday’s All America City Picnic at Ballard Park was only an appetizer for many who attended.
The picnic provided some good pre-July 4 entertainment but didn’t replace traditional family holiday plans and celebrations that are planned for the actual holiday today.
And it was a similar situation across Northeast Mississippi, where parades, fireworks and politics filled the Saturday before the Fourth of July.
Park patrons like Lewis Russell and his wife, Cassandra, enjoyed a day of food, fun and fireworks at the annual event. But the real celebration, he said, would come today when they get together with family and friends for an Independence Day barbecue.
“I’m glad Tupelo decided to have the picnic and firework show the day before the Fourth of July instead of the day of because it feels like a longer celebration,” said Russell. “This doesn’t change our plans one bit. We have always had a family barbecue on the Fourth and we are still going to have one. Having the picnic today is just an added extra to our weekend plans.”
Between 7,000 and 10,000 people attended the picnic, which began mid-afternoon and culminated with a fireworks display at night.
In between, entertainment included musical performances by Stone Lizard, Louisiana’s LeRoux, Jamie Davis & Soul Gravy and the Tupelo Symphony Orchestra.
Blankets and lawn chairs were scattered across the park lawn. Despite the large crowd, police said they had no problems, saying it was just a good fun filled day for families.
Unlike the Russell family, Carl Weathers did not have a barbecue planned for today, but the Tupelo picnic wasn’t going to be the end of his holiday plans. Weathers, of Tennessee, lost his wife in car accident nearly 10 years ago on July 4.
While visiting family in Alcorn County, he decided to attend the picnic but he will spend today visiting his wife’s grave.
“I go every year on July 4 to visit her grave,” he said. “This is kind of a bittersweet holiday for me and most of the time it’s more bitter than sweet. But that is what I always do and it’s something I will continue to do on July 4.”
Scott Walton and his wife, Karen, are hoping that their July 4 brings a new addition to the family. Karen is pregnant, and her due date is today.
The Waltons said they figured some walking would persuade the little one to make it on time.
“We are enjoying the picnic, but also hoping that tomorrow we’ll have a new baby on the way,” said Karen. “This is going to be a very special holiday for us hopefully. Or a very long one depending on how things go.”

Contact Danza Johnson at (662) 678-1583 or danza.johnson@djournal.com.

Danza Johnson/NEMS Daily Journal