QUITMAN — Residents dressed in red, white and blue and lined the sides of Highway 25 in Quitman on Saturday for the annual Fourth of July parade.

While health department officials gave the city the OK to host its annual Fourth of July parade, the annual Veteran’s Celebration, which typically takes place at the city park, was canceled due to COVID-19 restrictions. Residents were allowed to line up in a socially-distanced manner along the highway to enjoy the annual parade.

Children and their families gathered at various spots along the highway beginning at the town’s football field all the way to the Circle L Feed & Hardware store to watch floats and other residents march to this year’s theme: United We Stand.

WearabiliTee Screen Printing’s float received the Best in Theme award following the parade and resident Greg Hutto’s float was named Most Patriotic.

Several residents decorated floats for the parade, some rode through and waved from their antique vehicles while others trotted along on their horses or putted along on their tractors while smiling at the small clusters of families gathered along the highway that runs through the middle of town.

Nelda Kennedy, a 92-year-old resident, and Christopher Pipkin, a 2017 Quitman High School graduate, were the 2020 grand marshals.

Kennedy married her long-time husband, Ed, on Dec. 29, 1946. Ed was a WWII Navy veteran, and the couple purchased Nelda’s father’s trucking company – Plant Ruck Line – in 1959.

The Quitman native was the first woman to serve in the Arkansas Motor Carriers Association and she was also became the first Heber Springs Chamber of Commerce female president in 1981. Officials said she was inducted into the Heber Springs Chamber of Commerce’s Hall of Fame in 2009.

Pipkin, 21, who is studying meteorology at Mississippi State University said he was thankful for the opportunity to serve alongside Kennedy as a grand marshal on Saturday.

“Thank you to the entire city of Quitman for making this one of the best Four of July parades ever,” he wrote in a social media post following the weekend parade. “I feel honored to have been a co-marshal with Ms. Nelda Plant Kennedy. She is one incredible lady! I will never forget this great town I grew up in.”

The QHS graduate often broadcasts live via social media alerting his community of severe weather and currently works as a weekend meteorologist for WVUA 23 in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.

Staff writer Marisa Hicks can be reached at mhicks@thecabin.net.

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