Tupelo’s annual Forward Festival kicks off with a parade

TUPELO – Residents and police officers will eat, chat and enjoy each others’ company at the annual Communities Forward Festival on Saturday at Gum Tree Park.
The event, now in its fifth year, aims to foster better relations between community members and law enforcement. In the past, the festival even featured a softball tournament between officers and residents.
This year, though, it’s the children who will face off. Kids in the city’s Police Athletic League will participate in three-on-three basketball games, said Tupelo Police Maj. Anthony Hill.
In addition to the sporting events, this year’s festival will feature food, refreshments, vendors, live music, entertainment, prizes – including a laptop computer – and a parade.
The parade starts at 1 p.m. at Carver Elementary School on Green Street and takes a circuitous route through the Park Hill neighborhood until ending at Gum Tree Park on Front Street.
The festival begins immediately after the parade, said Ward 4 City Councilwoman Nettie Davis, who originally created the event.
“The purpose is to promote relationships between the police department and the community,” she said. “The more we do together, the better we’ll be. We have an excellent police department – there are problems, but there are some excellent officers.”
Police officers also help plan the event, and several local businesses pitched in with contributions and donations.

Contact Emily Le Coz at (662) 678-1588 or emily.lecoz@djournal.com.

Emily Le Coz/NEMS Daily Journal