There could hardly have been a better celebration Friday morning as Brownwood’s ROC (Revitalizing Our Community) members welcomed city officials and other community members to dedicate a renovated Cecil Holman Park.
Guests included individuals and representatives of businesses and organizations including the City of Brownwood that provided funds, labor and material to make the facelift possible for the 3-acre park.
The dedication took place just hours ahead of the start of this weekend’s Juneteenth celebration, which began Friday evening.
In May 2016, ROC members and city officials held a groundbreaking at the park, signifying the beginning of the park’s renovation. ROC was busy with fund-raising, and the City of Brownwood contributed $100,000 from water district buy-in funds.
At Friday’s dedication, lunch was catered by Humphrey Pete’s, and Mayor Pro Tem and ROC founder Draco Miller handed out certificates of appreciation to several individuals whose businesses or organizations had played major roles in making the renovation possible.
Miller called each one of them forward to receive a certificate and hear Miller summarize the contributions that the person’s business or organization was responsible for.
Miller’s brother, Jodie, a ROC member and one of several who spoke, said the renovation of the 60-year-old park “lends credence to the old saying, it takes a village to raise a child. Here’s our child, and it took a village to raise this child.”
Jodie Miller recalled how his brother Draco would come to the park 27 years ago — in 1991 — and bring his two children, Natasha and Draco, where the three of them would paint the equipment at the park.
“Twenty-seven years later, this is the vision,” Jodie Miller said before introducing his brother.
“It soothes my heart to known that the community pulls together in diversity — all types of diversity and cultures,” Draco Miller said. “We’re here together.”
Miller reiterated his brother’s story of how “Myself and my two children got ahold of the city and asked for paint so we can repaint the park down here,” Draco Miller said. “They gave it to us. I don’t think they thought we were going to get it done. … this neighborhood is where we grew up at.”
Miller called his daughter, Natasha, forward to speak. “I really, really, really love this park,” Natasha Miller said. “ Lot of great memories here.”
Mayor Stephen Haynes said he’s proud that the city has had a vision for restoring its parks. “Nothing speaks more volume about our parks than our parks,” Haynes said.
“We want places to take our kids and feel like they can play with their friends in a safe environment, and nobody wants their children playing on 40 or 50 or 60-year-old playground equipment. Nobody wants them playing in a baseball field where you wonder if you’re going to fall through the bleachers or not.”
City Manager Emily Crawford acknowledged the work of city employees during the park’s renovation and credited Miller with having “a great vision and a lot of big ideas.”
Ray Tipton, executive director of the Brownwood Area Chamber of Commerce, said he would be sliding down one of the new slides at the park at the end of the dedication. Tipton also said his mother, Sandra Jean, who died in 2014, had brought Ray and Lisa Tipton’s son and daughter to all of the city’s parks when they were younger.
Tipton said one of the memorial bricks sold for the Honor Garden, which was still covered by a tarp as Tipton spoke, would be a brick with his mother’s name on it.
City worker later removed the tarp to reveal the neat rows of memorial bricks.
Later, to the delight of other guests, Tipton ascended to the top of a set of dual slides for an uneventful trip to the bottom. For the next several minutes, others including Crawford and Draco Miller took their turns.
“It was a big day,” Miller said. “It was a beautiful day, honoring everybody that lives in Brownwood, the donors, the businesses, the individuals who came out and helped put this together.
“It’s been a long time in coming. We started — my two children and I — in 1991 and just kept the vision going.”
After then-City Manager Bobby Rountree and the city contributed $100,000, Miller said, “my friend, Mr. Putter Jarvis, gave us the second seed, and Landmark Life came in.”
It was a beautiful day, Miller said, to start off the Juneteenth festival. “We thank everybody, and God bless us,” he said.