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Friday, May 6, 2016

Rain can't reign in Bell Buckle

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

WKRN-TV (Channel 2) news anchor Anne Holt was tossing Moon Pies like a pro as her ride made its way down the parade route at Saturday's RC Cola & MoonPie Festival in bell Buckle. Holt and weatherman Justin Bruce were named the Queen and King of this year's event.
(T-G Photo by Mary Reeves) [Order this photo]
WKRN-TV (Channel 2) weatherman Justin Bruce had two reasons to keep a close eye on the skies Saturday morning. Besides the fact that it's his job, he knew he was riding in an open convertible as the King of the RC Cola & Moon Pie parade in Bell Buckle, with WKRN anchor Anne Holt as the queen.

"He kept saying, 'I think we're going to escape it, I think we're going to escape it,'" said Maggi Vaughn, a member of the Moon Pie committee.

And as is the case with a lot forecasts, Bruce was partially right. The powerful storms that thundered across Middle Tennessee Saturday afternoon did hold off long enough for the parade and the Moon Pie coronation, but around 2 p.m., the skies opened and the deluge began.

'Abe Lincoln' made a quiet appearance, silently handing out American flags and greeting visitors at the parade. The theme for this year's festival was patriotism, and Abe was joined by Uncle Sam and many area veterans.
(T-G Photo by Mary Reeves)
"I would still say it was very successful," said Vaughn. "People are saying it was the best parade we've ever had, and the merchants seemed happy."

Billy Phillips, owner of the Bluebird Ice Cream Shop and Phillips' General Store, said business was better than brisk, with lines forming at both sites.

All-American day

This year's theme was patriotism, and a "train" filled with veterans was cheered as it passed through the crowd. One car carried an Uncle Sam look-a-like, while Abe Lincoln walked the distance, handing out American flags.

"We had Uncle Sam there, and after the crowning of the king and queen, we had him lead everybody in the pledge," said Joe Sheetz, president of Bell Buckle's Chamber of Commerce. Every single person stood, there wasn't a hat on a head. To me, that was the highlight of the whole thing. It was the most moving moment."

Mrs. United States and Mrs. Tennessee were also present, and in the absence of Bell Buckle's mayor and first lady, who had to be out of town this week, they performed coronation duties, giving Holt and Bruce their crowns. "They really had a good time," said Vaughn.

Playing in the rain

Some of the afternoon activities were curtailed because of the rain, but a little wet didn't keep everybody away.

"It started raining while the band was on stage and the people wouldn't leave," said Sheetz. "They stayed there in the pouring rain and listened to them."

Karen Johnson of Lebanon won the Moon Pie recipe contest with her "cupcakes in a jar," recipe.

"She told everybody she had a booth and I told everybody not to go over there," said Sheetz, laughing. "I wanted some. By the time I got over there, she was sold out."

Even at the closing, when the world's largest Moon Pie was cut by State Sen. Jim Tracy, there were still diehard fans around to share.

"It was so fun, we did it front of Town Hall because of the rain," said Sandy Johnson, a customer service representative at the hall. "There weren't many people left, so everybody got some of the Moon Pie for once."

Traffic troubles

Of course, not everyone had a stellar day at the Moon Pie festival. There were several fender benders and one bus found itself stuck, with wheels hanging off in a ditch.

"Traffic was backing up and all I could see were these little old ladies on Harleys," said Phillips, laughing.

One youngster ended up going to the hospital when he apparently ran into the street and collided with a passing car. The driver was only going about 5 miles per hour, said Bell Buckle police officer Tommy Wiley, who did not press charges. The 12-year-old boy was scraped and had some swelling in his ankle, but was released to his parents.

"His mother called me and said he was home and doing okay," said Wiley.

Eventually, ambulances left, buses were freed and the Harley-riding ladies joined the veterans, the antique cars and the Bedford County Rescue boat for the Moon Pie parade.

Hard work pays off

"Everybody worked hard to make this come about," said Vaughn, who gave extra credit to Sheetz, who organized most of the day's events. "I'm just sorry about the weather. If the rain had not come, we would have had an even better day."

"It was a learning experience," said Sheetz. "I learned a lot of people will help. Everybody will pitch in."

Sheetz got another laugh in when he talked about the Moon Pie 10-mile run, poking a little fun at a typo in the Times-Gazette story.

"We had 838 runners show up," he said. "Out of 9,000."