A holiday tradition ends
Jay Brown, who has hosted, or co-hosted, the picnic along with wife Betty, for the past 27 years, announced at the conclusion of Sunday’s event that the picnics would not continue past 2010.
The picnics began in the mid 1980s as a joint effort between three families, Jay and Betty Brown, Collier and Peggy Perry and Emmet and Jenny Perry.
Originally held at the Collier Perry pecan orchard on the San Gabriel River, the first picnics drew more than 100 participants and featured river f loating, fishing, games for children and after-dark “bring them and shoot them yourself” fireworks.
In later years the picnics were moved to the Brown pasture west of Rockdale and the tradition continued.
The pasture contains a large stock tank and the evenings often concluded with the posting of the American f lag on horseback and a dusk speech on the bank of the tank.
Sunday’s final speech was by Reporter Editor Mike Brown who had served as speaker about 20 times for the picnic.
He quoted the well-known phrases from the Declaration of Independence, noting that Thomas Jefferson intended the famous words “all men are created equal and are endowed by their creator with certain inalienable rights and among them are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” to apply to all persons in all times, not just the colonies in 1776.
“I know it’s not usual to quote from a Britisher on the Fourth of July,” Brown said. “But Churchill was the first person ever to be granted full American citizenship by the U.S. Congress.”