Monday, July 7, 2008



Tennessee Express News Writer

* The crowds were down, and the parade was short, but the weather was beautiful for the 2008 Lighting Up the Cumberland Celebration in Cumberland City, Tennessee
The fifth annual event kicked off a little later than the 10 A.M. start time, but everyone easily forgave Mayor Whitey Vaughn, who had to attend to some important city business. It’s easy to forgive one of the biggest supporters for the annual celebration here, residents say.
* Besides, the parade has been delayed many times in the past five years… once to allow all the tractors to get across the river on the Cumberland City ferry.
* Cumberland City Church of Christ Minister Richard Garza gave the invocation after the Mayor’s welcome.
* “We thank you, God, for blessing our community,” Garza prayed. “Continue to bless our country, and bless the Cumberland City community.
* Then Garza asked God specifically to bless the young people of the community. “If it’s your will, please bless the children of Cumberland City with a school of their own,” he said.
* Given the go-ahead, Cumberland City Police Chief Jason Gillespie cranked up the siren on his grey car, tossed green Frisbees, and proceeded to bring the parade down the hill.
* Houses along the parade route were patriotically festooned with flags, red, white, and blue ribbons, flowers, and banners. At 404 Main Street, patriotric music spilled from the beautiful Colonial-style porch of one home, which even featured a red, white, and blue tree decorated inside a nearby gazebo.
* If you were within hearing range of city hall, you enjoyed the familiar voice of emcee George Wallace, who attends the event faithfully each year and also provides the P.A. equipment for the day-long entertainment.
* Following the police chief in the parade was the Stewart County Volunteer Fire Services truck.
* To the delight of children of all ages, next came a number of motorcycles, revving their engines as they passed.

* Even Cumberland City’s own alderman David Dunlap was spotted on his Harley, with his lovely wife Belinda riding happily behind him! (You know what they say… Behind every great man is the woman responsible!)

* Next, Macey Dale Perigo was a vision to behold as she waved to the crowds in her capacity as 2008 Miss Lighting Up the Cumberland.

* Stewart County Mayor Rick Joiner shared the next float with “Granny” (a.k.a. “The Queen of Cumberland City”).

* Granny, affectionately called that by everyone in the Cumberland City neighborhood, is really 92-year-young Mary Sue Douglas. Her cheerful, happy attitude is a welcome sight each year. This year, though, I noticed that Granny wasn’t wearing either the crown she wore the first year or the fancy hat from last year.

* When asked about it, her sassy response, as she lifted her aged hands to her head, was, “I didn’t want to mess up my hair.”

* She was also quick to share that she’d already ridden on a motorcycle earlier in the day to the fire hall (courtesy of her grandson!).

* “I enjoy life,” Granny said, simply. “I just believe in God. That’s all. He’s been good to me. I enjoy having fun and joking.”

* Granny was wearing a pretty floral pant suit, and she laughed when I complimented her on it. That’s because, as she slyly explained, with her painful arthritis, she was wearing maternity pants for comfort.

* Still, age-related problems don’t seem to be slowing down this vivacious lady who fell in love with Cumberland City eight years ago when she moved here.

* “I’m fighting for a hundred, honey,” is her parting shot that pretty much sums it all up.

* Of course, the parade route continued with Parade Master Hunter Baron, followed by Little Miss Lighting Up the Cumberland, Paisley Autumn Epps.

* And then came the tractors…

* Mike Vanzant of Cumberland City drove his 1952 Super C McCormick Farmall and had a few grandchildren around him hitching a ride as well: Gracie and Sha-Ann Vanzant, Riley Pullard, and Cary Travis.

* Other tractors included a variety of McCormick-Farmalls, John Deeres, and even a WD-45 Allis-Chalmers.

* The Cumberland City Church of Christ was easily dubbed the most patriotic float of the day, with a wagon-full of young children waving small flags.

* From start to finish the parade was only 15 minutes long, setting two records: one for the being the shortest in all five years of the event’s history, and the other for being broadcast live all over the world for the first time ever, thanks to Mike Davis’s coverage on the webpage.

* Stay tuned for more coverage including the motorcycle show winners, the car show, speculation on why there was such a low turn-out, and MUCH MORE!!!