AMORY – Amory claimed its place on the Mississippi Blues Trail Nov. 23 with the unveiling of a historical marker commemorating local contributions to the genre. The marker is entitled, Amory, Mississippi: Blues from a Railroad Town, and it honors musicians Lucille Bogan, Frank Swan, James Whitfield, Roger and Dudley McKinney, the Top Hats, Al Rachel, Michael Freeman and Tony Hooper.
“It’s even blue. Amory is now on the itinerary of Mississippi’s most popular tourist attraction,” said Mayor Brad Blalock.
The back of the marker drew extended attention as people stepped up to read anecdotes of Amory’s blues history and view historic photos.
Rachel, who sang with the Top Hats, was excited to find his name on the list of performers. He was joined by Dudley McKinney, who sang gospel songs with his brother, Roger.
“We sang popular hits of our time,” Rachel said.
Guest speakers included Laurin Paris of the Mississippi Development Authority, Mississippi’s Miss Hospitality Kasey Pearson and Amory Main Street Director Alyssa Benedict.
“The Amory Blues Trail Marker has been years in the making,” Benedict said. “[Property owner] Carla Glasgow asked me to head up this project with her a little over a year ago to get it done and she had a home for it at Vinegar Bend. I am honored that Amory Main Street gets to be a part of something that is documenting a little history of our town, and I hope the locals are just as proud of it as we are.”
Blues tunes were performed by the Blue Light Trav’lers after the unveiling of the marker with a couple of members from East Side/West Side Connection. Even the mayor joined in playing his guitar.
“I thank Laurin Paris, Jim O’Neal and so many others with Visit Mississippi and the Mississippi Blues Trail Commission for helping make it happen,” Benedict said. “I also hope this will bring a few visitors to our downtown area to see and enjoy the things we get to have all year round. Amory is a special place and working together we can make more amazing things happen in our town.”
ABERDEEN – A couple who is visible and vocal for bettering Aberdeen was named as Junior Women’s League’s first citizens of the year. Through the honor, Linda and Frank Record, who have spearheaded efforts such as cancer awareness and citywide cleanups, will be the grand marshals for Dec. 3’s Christmas parade.
“We were at the Christmas Open House, and Junior Women’s League had a table set up, and [president] Jessica [Gray] was explaining everything. After we started talking, she said, ‘Oh, you’re the Records,’ and she said, ‘I need to tell you something,’” Linda said of first hearing about being selected. “It was something neither of us sought out to do. It was a total shock that’s still sinking in.”
Nominations were received earlier this fall, and the Records received the most nominations.
“We were going to choose a man and a woman, and it’s awesome they’re a couple,” said JWL Publicity Chair Julia Moore. “We hope to make this an annual award. I’d like to encourage more people in the community to do positive things, not for the award but for making the community better.”
Topics considered for the award included examples of volunteerism, what sets the nominees apart and how nominees benefited and are models for Monroe County and its residents.
Between the two, the Records are involved in the community through organizing quarterly community cleanups and a cancer walk in October, making burden bears through Friendship Baptist Church for people going through hard times, regularly sharing concerns with the board of aldermen and volunteering at the Loaves and Fishes Food Pantry.
Most recently, they started awarding Making a Difference certificates to people in the community.
“The first one went to Tohona Larthridge for beautification efforts through the public works department. The second one went to Charles Bascom, who cleaned up the area where Aaron’s Cleaners was. The third one went to Little Bubba [Ware], and part of his job at Piggly Wiggly is helping keep the parking lot clean,” Linda said. “It’s for every day people who are doing what they’re doing and to let them know they’re appreciated.”
The Records moved back to Aberdeen in 2013 and have been active ever since.
“We both consider ourselves ordinary people doing ordinary things for our hometown. That’s what we’ve done since we came back and didn’t expect anything else,” she said.
Monroe County towns will host their annual Christmas parades next week, giving attendees opportunities to hear marching bands, see organizations’ creativity through floats and even lay eyes on Santa Claus himself.
Amory will kick off the festivities Dec. 2 at 6:30 p.m. Lineup begins at 5:30 p.m. behind Country Boy’s Hamburgers, and the route will stretch south on Main Street.
Aberdeen’s parade is Dec. 3 at 6:30 p.m. Lineup begins at 5:30 p.m. in front of the Post Office, and the parade will continue through downtown on Commerce Street.
The Monroe County Chamber of Commerce sponsors both the Amory and Aberdeen Christmas parades.
“We’ll have Santa and Mrs. Claus, characters from ‘Frozen,’ the pink Power Ranger and Iron Man. If you come a little early, you can have your picture taken with them,” said Kim Schafer, Monroe County Chamber of Commerce resource director.
This year is the first time a student art contest has been affiliated with the parades. Hamilton Elementary School fifth-grader Alina Pugh placed first, and her artwork was used for the commemorative T-shirt, which is available for sale on the chamber’s website. Proceeds benefit the chamber’s Industry Insider WAE program.
Hatley Elementary School fifth-grader Emily Harlow placed second, and her design will be featured on the parades’ banner.
For the second year in a row, the chamber has partnered with the Monroe County Career and Technical Center for students to build Santa’s float. Local industries have also entered floats.
“The Christmas parades are a great way to kick off the magical month of December. It is one of our goals to help recapture one of the favorite things about the holidays, and that is the Christmas parades,” Schafer said.
Registration for the Amory parade is $15, and the fee for Aberdeen is $10. The combined rate to be in both parades is $20. People may register online at www.gomonroe.org and for more information, call Schafer at 369-6488.
First-place winners from both parades get $300, second-place gets $200, and third-place gets $100. Winners will be notified the day after each parade.
Nettleton’s Christmas parade, being held Dec. 5 at 7 p.m., is sponsored by the Friends of the Dorothy J. Lowe Library and the Nettleton Volunteer Fire Department.
It begins at Nettleton High School and will continue past City Hall, ending in front of Tiffany’s School of Dance.
There is a $10 entry fee, and prizes will be given for the top three floats. The first-place winner is $300, second-place is $200, and third-place is $100.
For more information, call city clerk Dana Burcham at 963-2605 or 523-0290.
Smithville’s Christmas parade will be Dec. 7 at 4 p.m. with lineup at Industrial Road. The parade route will continue north on Highway 25 to Pine Street.
Smithville High School graduate Jared Johnson, who is a member of the Atlanta Braves organization, will be grand marshal. The Smithville High School band, floats, horses, show cars and Santa Claus will be among the participants.
Entry fee for judging is $10, and the deadline to register is Dec. 5. For more information, call Kim Johnson at Town Hall at 651-4411.
Immediately after the parade, there will be a tree lighting ceremony at Memorial Park, and the winners will be announced.