Center Point's annual Hometown Parade delivered the goods on Saturday morning. With sirens wailing, lights flashing, and plenty of candy, Center Point celebrated its independent spirit.
Led by Kerr County Sheriff Larry Leitha, a longtime Center Point resident and former school trustee, the parade showcased some of the new things coming to the quaint downtown, which is undergoing revitalization.
The new Zanzenberg Tavern is opening in the next few weeks, a market is taking shape in a renovated building, and there's a new gallery — all practically renovated.
The Texas Rangers play a large role in Center Point's history. More than 30 Rangers are buried at the community's historic cemetery.
Center Point is at a crossroads, and some argue that it is in the crosshairs of Texas' relentless development push. A planned housing subdivision faced significant opposition from a community worried about water and traffic and losing its rural identity. Like Kerrville, short-term rentals are starting to pop up along the banks of the Guadalupe River, and on a warm day, there were plenty seeking comfort in those green waters.
However, Saturday's parade celebrated all things small town and rural.
"It was a great day and great turnout for our volunteer fire department and school reunions," said Kristi Richards, who helped organize the parade. "It's been my heart's desire to build the community of Center Point, so it was great to see so many participating in the parade and the families along the route."
The parade featured church groups, a tractor full of kids from Zanzenberg Farms (not all of their kids), some equestrian teams, a collection of vintage cars, Department of Public Safety Texas Rangers and the Kendall County Fair Queens.
There was also candy and more candy, and then the Center Point 4H tossed frozen ice pops to the crowd — the appreciation for the cool treats was real.
For many participants, it was about reconnecting to their roots, and a reunion of Center Point Independent School District alumni was one of the main attractions. The Center Point High School Class of 2002 had a float in the parade to mark their 20th reunion.
WANT TO SEE MORE PHOTOS? We've got 61 photos from the parade here: https://thekerrcountyleadphotography.zenfoliosite.com/zg/center-points-down-home-country-parade
The down-home feeling was certainly on display.
"I always enjoy this day and look forward to it," said Leitha, who was in line at the Center Point Volunteer Fire Department to have the barbecue lunch of brisket, sausage and beans. Trailing behind Leitha were two of his granddaughters.
Leading the parade was Center Point resident and Kerr County Sheriff Larry Leitha (driving).
Center Point Independent School District Superintendent Cody Newcomb waves to the crowd.
That was the kind of day for Center Point. As the parade wound its way down Texas 480 and turned left onto Skyline Drive, it ended at the Volunteer Fire Department. Inside were tables set up to serve hundreds of guests, ready for lunch.
"I think it's a great event for Center Point," said Rich Paces, the Republican nominee to become the Kerr County Precinct 2 Commissioner — one he should win, considering he has no opponent. "Kristi Richards (the parade's organizer) has done a fantastic job with the parade."
Lunch was served at the Center Point Volunteer Fire Department.
Brisket and sausage were the main courses on Saturday, July 9, 2022
It was also a reminder of deep-seated loyalty and admiration of the state's history — Confederate history. The Sons of Confederate Veterans marched in the parade, with one man dressed in re-enactor clothing carrying the Confederate Battle Flag — or the standard of the Army of Northern Virginia.
Mounted riders had three other Confederate flags, including the First Corps of the Army of Tennesse, with Texas connections. Gen. Patrick Cleburne (for which Cleburne, Texas was named) led the corps before being killed at the Battle of Franklin. Cleburne's commander was Texas' Gen. John Bell Hood.
As the rider rode by, many people stood at attention, removed hats and cheered.
Center Point's founder Charles Ganahl was a signer of Texas' secession documents in 1861. Kerr County historian Joe Herring Jr. noted in a 2018 article that Ganahl owned nearly half of the 49 enslaved people in Kerr County in 1860.
Of course, the Texas Rangers drew some big applause. The Rangers' connection to Center Point is deep, with at least 32 Rangers buried in the community's historic cemetery.