The Real America

Girl and mascot in pickup truck

A giant feline and a petite girl greet admirers with a smile from their perch in the bed of a pickup truck in the first ever Ding Dong Days – Homecoming Parade in Dumas, Arkansas. The people in the cab are having a large time as well. Prior to this, the two events were months apart and not related.

Link to corndancer dot com

Click the big critter to see more pictures and the start of this story on Corndancer dot com.

September 27, 2013 was a first for Dumas, Arkansas. The good folks of the city saw good reason to combine their 33-year-old festival, Ding Dong Days, with their local high school homecoming. It was not a snap decision. It took some head-scratching and soul-searching to reach the decision point. After all, they were messing with some deeply entrenched traditions.

New ideas, new event in record time

With the guiding idea of exploring new options, Dumas people got their heads together for open and informed  discussions. As a result, they developed a plan and in less than 12 months, the people of this Delta city hatched up a new combined event that worked like a charm. You can get more details of how this worked and see more event pictures on the Photo of the Week page at Corndancer dot-com.

Teenagers in pickup in parade

How many teenagers can you stuff into the bed of a pickup. In southern parlance, in this case, “a right smart.”

The original Ding Dong Days festival started in 1980 the last week of July to coincide with the original incorporation of the city. After a few years, some dear hearts in the city began to question the importance the date tradition versus the oven-like heat of late July in the Delta. Most of us down here believe that’s a good time to stay indoors and let the AC do its trick. In case you wondered, The Ding Dong Days name came from a popular song from the 1920s, Ding Dong Daddy From Dumas. The song was popular in the Dumas area.

The Sank Den from McGehee, Arkansas brought a display of non-poisonous and tamed snakes for touchy-feely for three bucks.Here, young Drake Norris, meets up with his new serpentine friend.

The Snake Den from McGehee, Arkansas brought a display of non-poisonous and tamed snakes for touchy-feely — for three bucks. Here, young Drake Norris, having paid his dues, meets up with his new serpentine friend.

Boy with snake sticking it head in pant pocket

Drake and snake were having a good time, much to the delight of their growing audience. Then the snake stuck his head in Drake’s pants pocket and that brought the house down. The fear of snakes was replaced with boisterous laughter. Such a deal.


little girl at Ding Dong Days

This little girl seems to be quietly curious and amazed by it all.

What the good folks in Dumas did was breathe new life into two of the biggest events in the city.  In so doing, people who were nodding acquaintances at best got their heads together on a regular basis, got to know each other better, and built a strong foundation of working together for a common goal. My friends, if I am not mistaken, that is the real America.

See our 83 picture gallery of these Ding Dong Home Coming events. More parade. More people. More snakes. Click here.

Thanks for dropping by,

Joe Dempsey
Weekly Grist for the Eyes and Mind