State champs to lead Dyer Station parade

Dyer Station Celebration kicks off Thursday at 6:30 p.m. with opening ceremonies at the VFW.

The weeklong Fourth of July celebration culminates with a day of activities July 4. This year, Gibson County High School state champions will serve as parade marshals at 9 a.m. on Independence Day.

In November 2018, the GCHS Marching Pioneers won their second consecutive Division 1 state band championship. The title is the seventh in the program’s illustrious history. Jeremy Tate directs the Marching Pioneers and has led his bands to four state championships.

The 2018-19 captains were Ethen Carrell and Lydia Todd. Drum majors were Alaina Eddlemon and Logan McBride. Section leaders were Marlenne Perez (clarinets), Brittany Haines (baritones), Emily Moulder (trumpets), Lauren Flowers (trumpets), Lauren Kelly (percussion), Madalyn Tanner (guard), Jessica Tanner (guard), Alyssa Welch (flutes), Ashlyn Hall (mellophones), Hillary Reynolds (percussion) Jessica Griffin (clarinets), Kaitlyn Zarecor (saxophones), Thomas Lawrence (baritones), Garrison Wyrick (trumpets), Cameron Cox (battery), Jack Lowrance (tubas) and Paxton Mathina (front ensemble).

In March, the GCHS Lady Pioneers basketball team captured the TSSAA Class BlueCross State Championship. Ashton Lannom, Hannah Ball, KJ White and Annie Bass were named to the state All-Tournament Team.

The Lady Pioneers compiled a stellar 35-3 record that included the District 14-A Championship, runner-up finish in the region and Coach Mitch Wilkins’ 900th career victory.

The GCHS cheerleaders were also recognized at the state tournament, receiving the Spirit Award. Cheerleaders were Chloe Hassell, Sydney Yochum ,Alaina Eddlemon, Savanna Ramsey, Hailey Jeppesen, Ise Cooper, Sierra Lee, Hayden Mercer, Jaeda Hampton, Hannah Qualls, Sunny Green, Kiara Harris, Shay Turner, Aaliyah Bailey and Madison Fussell.

Members of the band, girls’ basketball team and cheerleading squad will be honored as parade marshals.

Alyssa Baker, 2019 DSC Hostess Princess, will be showcased at all of the events.

Other events

The 35th Annual Dyer Station Celebration includes the popular escape room at 224 E. College Street on June 27, 28, 29, July 1, 2 and 3. Call Rachel Abbott at 731-414-3651 to reserve a time.

Volunteers will publicly read the Bible from 6 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday-Thursday at the Boy Scouts Building.

A downtown street dance is slated Friday beginning at 6:30 p.m. with food trucks, cake walk, homemade ice cream sales, t-shirt sales and jumpers for kids. There will be a Rook tournament Saturday at 2 p.m. at the VFW, Bingo Monday at 6:30 p.m. at the Fire Department, and trivia Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. at Gibson County Golf Course.

There will be praise singing Sunday at 2 p.m. at First Assembly of God Church and a communitywide church service Wednesday at 7 p.m. at First Methodist Church.

Fourth of July events include food sales beginning at 8 a.m., arts & crafts sales beginning at 8 a.m., Old Country Store beginning at 9 a.m., inaugural Dyer Lions Club hot dog eating contest at 11 a.m., pet show at 1 p.m. at the gazebo and fireworks at 9 p.m. at the park. All activities take place at David Robinson Park.

Festival history

Kelly Tucker, a DSC committee member shared the history of the festival.

The late Mrs. Georgia McIlwain Ellis had dreams of a celebration. In her dream, the City of Dyer would come together, for a festival of sorts, to celebrate the birthday of our great country. She shared these ideas with others and after her passing, Mrs. Georgia’s nephew, Johnny McIlwain Jr. made sure his aunt’s dream developed into reality.

In 1984, Mr. McIlwain headed up a committee of willing participants and together they put on West Tennessee’s first Fourth of July Celebration.  The Dyer Station Celebration started that year as a 6-day festival, involving a handful of Dyer residents. It has since grown into a community project involving most of the City of Dyer, many hours of planning and hard work throughout the entire calendar year.

While the celebration is centered mostly around the Fourth of July, the committee also has events during Christmastime. Some of those events include Breakfast with Santa, a Christmas parade, Taste of Dyer and a giving tree, which offers wish lists for residents to pick up and fulfill for children in the community.

A few years ago, Johnny’s niece, Melissa Langston Stafford, took charge of the Dyer Station committee, which meets once a month throughout the year and weekly in the month of June, completely dedicated to their town. Sadly, a few of the original committee members are not with us anymore, but there are still some who help when the need arises.

Of course, Johnny McIlwain, affectionately known to many as “Uncle Johnny,” is still a great help.  He has passed on so many fun ideas and a huge helping hand to the committee members of today!  I know that he enjoys sitting back and watching the fruits of his labor. We are so thankful for Johnny’s dedication and love for his hometown. This celebration, which brings people miles back home to Dyer, would not be possible without him and those who support this loving town.

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