Heritage Day to celebrate community

Somber 9/11 anniversary to be marked with tribute, NNO Kickoff as city gives nod to history

Bill Spinks
Midlothian Mirror
Historic downtown Midlothian will be filled once again this Saturday as the Midlothian Downtown Business Association hosts Heritage Day. A tribute will be held on the 20th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks in the morning, and a free barbecue lunch will be served with entertainment lasting into the evening.

Preparations are well underway for this weekend’s Heritage Day, which the Midlothian Downtown Business Association will host on Saturday.

The date is a somber one — the 20th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks — and a 9/11 Memorial Tribute will be held for those who fell victim on that day. The tribute is scheduled for 9:30 a.m. and will include music by the Jackson Twins and a combined Midlothian Police and Fire Department honor guard.

But there will also be some levity as the community celebrates its history in downtown Midlothian. The event is largely fashioned after the one Midlothian held on July 4, 1976, to celebrate the country’s bicentennial.

“We fed everyone in Midlothian then and it worked out pretty well,” said Tony Sanders, event coordinator and the mayor of Midlothian during the 1976 bicentennial. “(Current) Mayor Richard Reno and I had been talking about it for a while and thought (with) 9/11 and coming out of the pandemic, it would be a good time for the city to put its best foot forward. It’s turned out to be a lot bigger than we thought it would be.”

The event is made possible in large part through a grant from the Midlothian Community Development Corporation, commonly known as the “4B board,” Sanders noted.

Saturday’s happenings include a free barbecue lunch, classic car show, games and a street dance. In addition, the National Night Out Kickoff, hosted by the Midlothian Police Department, starts at 3:30 p.m. at this event.

The southern portion of 7th Street at the intersection of Main Street will be barricaded off on Thursday for tent and barbecue pits to be moved in and set up. This area will remain shut down/barricaded off through the end of the event on Saturday at 10 p.m.

Starting at 9 a.m. on Saturday and lasting until 2 p.m., a Downtown Market will be held at Heritage Park with community information booths. Entertainment planned throughout the day includes Kids Zone activities, including bouncy houses; pony and barrel train rides and petting zoo; a classic car show; and Newton Larkin Cabin tours and historical demonstrations at Heritage Park.

The free barbecue lunch will begin at 11 a.m. The meal will be served at the green former Lawson building, which the city of Midlothian purchased earlier this year, Sanders said.

“We’re expecting to serve 2,500 people,” Sanders said. “We’ll be serving lunch until we run out.”

Along with the NNO Kickoff in the afternoon, a shuttle service will take place from the Brookshire’s parking lot all day. Food trucks, a beer and wine bar, and a cornhole tournament will also be provided.

Events on stage will be ongoing throughout the day, including the 9/11 Memorial.

Local country and western acts will be performing through the midday and early evening, high school band and drill team performances at 4 p.m. and a street dance starting at 7 p.m. The street dance will be headlined by Dave Alexander and the Big Texas Swing Band. 

Balancing a solemn commemoration with festivity is a challenge, but Sanders said the event should be a celebration of the community’s perseverance.

“We felt the nation and the state and the city really needs to celebrate still being here 20 years later,” he said. “We’ve overcome that.”

The MDBA hosts several events throughout the year, including the Midlothian Market during the first and third Saturdays of each month from May to October and the Scarecrow Festival each October and November in Heritage Park.

The association also works closely with the city and the Midlothian Chamber of Commerce on other downtown events, including the Wine & Arts Festival, Downtown Trick or Treat, and the Southern Star Christmas Celebration.