South Belt celebrates Fourth of July
Celebration includes the Rev. John Morgan as grand marshal, largest fireworks display in event’s history
Several local organizations, elected officials, businesses, and residents are gearing up for the annual South Belt Independence Day parade, set to take place Monday, July 4, beginning at 10 a.m.
Now in its 29th year, the parade will feature a variety of decorated vehicles and floats, classic cars and emergency vehicles. The route will wind its way from Beverly Hills Intermediate to San Jacinto College South via Fuqua, Sabo/Hughes Road and Beamer.
The theme for this year’s event will be Anniversaries, as Sagemont Church and the Sagemont-Beverly Hills Little League are both celebrating their 50th anniversaries, and the Leader is celebrating its 40th anniversary. The Rev. John Morgan, senior pastor at Sagemont Church, will serve as grand marshal for the event. Morgan is also celebrating 50 years as pastor of Sagemont Church.
Once again, Harris County Precinct 2 Constable Chris Diaz will be taking part in the parade.
Other early confirmed entries include the Sagemont Church Choir, the Ellington Rams youth football team, the Southeast Volunteer Fire Department, the Sagemont Cowgirls youth cheerleaders and a group of Christian motorcyclists.
Also participating again this year is longtime Beverly Hills resident and former U.S. Marine Joe Hinojosa.
For his parade entry, Hinojosa plans to adorn his pickup truck with a life-size replica of a fighting Marine.
Hinojosa was inspired to buy the statue after seeing a similar one at a cafe near the Grand Canyon. After scouring the Internet for a couple of months, Hinojosa’s son was finally able to find the item at a warehouse north of Dallas, along with replicas of Elvis Presley and Santa Claus.
Hinojosa joked that the purchase of the item, which cost more than $1,000, nearly cost him his marriage.
The former soldier said he displays the statue in his yard on holidays and even loaned it to Atkinson Elementary to show on Veteran’s Day.
Having fought in Vietnam, Hinojosa is very proud of his service.
“I’m proud to have served my country. I’m very patriotic. I believe in flying the American flag in front of my house,” Hinojosa said, adding that he once purchased 25 American flags to distribute to his neighbors to fly.
All residents, organizations and businesses are welcome to enter. Participants are encouraged to decorate their vehicles and floats, as prizes will be awarded in various categories. Community and nonprofit groups may sign up for the parade at no charge, unless they wish to be eligible for a prize. A $50 fee is charged for commercial entries. Noncommercial entries may enter the contest for $25.
Entry forms are available at www.southbeltleader.com, the Leader office, 11555 Beamer, and on Page 4B. The forms are to be filled out and returned to the Leader office, faxed to 281-481-5730 or emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org by July 2.
While the parade starts at 10 a.m., participants are urged to arrive early, as the lineup for the caravan will begin at 9 a.m.
On the evening of July 4, residents will not want to miss the annual fireworks display, as organizers are saying it will be the largest in the event’s 28-year history.
The pyrotechnics display is funded by the annual South Belt Spectacular Cook-off.
While this year’s cook-off wasn’t quite as successful as organizers had hoped due to high water, extra funds were left over from the previous year – the most successful in the event’s 20-year history.
Organizers said they plan to spend roughly $45,000 on the fireworks show this year. By comparison, organizers spent only around $3,000 on the first South Belt fireworks display in 1988.
While the fireworks will be set off at El Franco Lee Park, located at 9400 Hall Road, they should be visible throughout much of the South Belt community.
The annual fireworks display is scheduled to begin between 9:15 and 9:30 p.m.
The exact start time is dependent on multiple conditions, including the position of the moon.
Longtime state Sen. Rodney Ellis handily won the Democratic nomination for Precinct 1 commissioner during a closed party election Saturday, June 25, effectively guaranteeing him the position this November, as he will run unopposed.
Ellis received 78 votes to interim Commissioner Gene Locke’s 36 votes. Precinct chair and party organizer Nathaniel West Sr. received two votes.
While Houston District D City Council Member Dwight Boykins was nominated to run for the position, he opted to step down and throw his support behind Locke.
Ellis will likely take the seat in January, replacing Locke, who had been appointed by Harris County Judge Ed Emmett this past January to fill the remainder of the late El Franco Lee’s term.
The election was not without controversy, as only local party precinct chairs were allowed to cast votes, essentially leaving county voters without a say in a contest that will have a long-lasting impact.
Prior to his death, Lee had served in the position for more than 30 years, as he rarely faced serious challengers in the heavily Democratic precinct.
Despite getting off to a rocky start, due to disagreements over parliamentary procedure, the election eventually ran smoothly, with precinct chairs casting their votes by merely standing behind the candidate of their choice. Party officials had earlier ruled that secret ballots were prohibited.
Longtime public servant
Born and raised in Houston’s Sunnyside neighborhood, Ellis, 62, served three terms on Houston City Council and as chief of staff to the late U.S. Rep. Mickey Leland before being elected to the state Senate in 1990. He earned a bachelor’s degree from Texas Southern University, before continuing his education at the University of Texas, where he earned both a master’s degree and a law degree. He and his wife Licia Green-Ellis have four children.
Ellis’ nomination will likely have a domino effect because he will now have to withdraw his name from the November ballot for his Senate seat, setting the stage for at least one more controversial closed election, as area precinct chairs will once again be tasked with selecting a replacement.
An estimated 94 precinct chairs from Ellis’ Senate District 13 – 78 from Harris County and 16 from Fort Bend County – will meet again July 16 to select a new candidate. The winner will run unopposed in November.
At least three state representatives from the area are said to be interested in Ellis’ Senate seat: Garnet Coleman, Borris Miles and Senfronia Thompson. Should the precinct chairs select a state representative to fill the Senate seat, yet another closed election will be decided by precinct chairs to fill that vacancy.
Any such opening would need to be filled by August in order to appear on the November ballot, party officials said.
Former City Controller Ron Green and former Houston City Council Member C.O. Bradford have also expressed interest in running for Ellis’ Senate seat. Boykins has reportedly opted to not seek the position.
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