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Mechanics Sponsors Friday Fireworks, Saturday Run

The annual fireworks show sponsored by Mechanics Bank is visible all over Water Valley. – Photo by Chris Hart

By Nell Jobe

Chamber of Commerce 

Once again during carnival weekend, Friday night festivities will include a professional fireworks display sponsored by Mechanics Bank. This high intensity celebration display is scheduled to begin at 9 p.m. It will last for 10 minutes and consist of a spectacular opening barrage followed by various multiple effects in heights from 75 to 400 feet high and over 350 feet wide. Mechanics Bank’s fireworks display may be viewed from almost any point in the city and is a perfect highlight to other Friday night festivities which include the Street Dance sponsored by Renasant Bank.

Hopefully, those who attend the Friday night festivities at City Park will still be able to rise early on Saturday as the excitement continues. As in the past, this year’s Watermelon Carnival weekend will include a 3k walk/run race early on Saturday morning.

The race began in 1987 as a natural addition to the Watermelon Carnival. Andrew (Jack) Grass and his wife, Charlotte, saw the vision of a 5-kilometer race (3.1 miles) that would bring people to Water Valley and show what our town had to offer. It began small, with a starting line adjacent to the City Park on the West Side. The course went out through rolling hills in Possum Hollow, then up Market Street, and looped back through West Lee and circled back to the Park. It quickly grew beyond its means which made the starting area and race course too congested because of traffic along and adjacent to City Park due to the Carnival festivities.

The race was moved to North Court Street, in front of what was then Sunburst Bank, which featured a terrifically tough course, an out and back track that went up a hill at about mile 1 and featured a 10 percent grade. The course turned around and came back down the same hill, rolling into the finish on the flat terrain. It made for a fast course, but was very demanding for the participants. 

In 2003, Mechanics Bank was able to secure the sponsorship of the race. The course was changed,  making it a much flatter track, with only 5 feet of elevation gain over the entire race route. The course now begins at the Bandstand in downtown Water Valley, then proceeds up Railroad Street to Main, and up to Jones and Boyd Street then a turn around.

For a few years, the race was kept at the 5k distance and cost the participants a $10 entry fee. In 2009 the course was changed to a 3k race (1.86 miles) and was promoted by Mechanics Bank as a “Free Ride” due partially to the mortgage crisis that enveloped the nation at the time. This was the first race that featured no entry fees and has continued to be the only race in the nation, to our knowledge, that is truly a free race.

This year is going to be extra memorable, as the race celebrates its 30th anniversary and Mechanics Bank, founded in 1892, celebrates its 125th birthday. Adding to the race festivities will be a birthday cake for the Bank, and live music provided by the local band and crowd favorite, Midlife Crisis. This should definitely pep up the downtown area on Saturday morning!

Keith River, race coordinator for Mechanics Bank, encourages everyone to get out early Saturday morning and gather at the Bandstand for food, fun, fellowship, and live music. Race participants may register (free, of course} between 6:30 and 7:30 a.m., and the race will start at 7:30.


The live music will begin at 7 a.m. and continue until 10 a.m. In addition to this year’s birthday cake celebrating 125 years, the bank will be serving their usual cold watermelon slices and bottled water to the participants after the race.

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