Yazoo Day brings hundreds home

By JASON PATTERSON,

Many former Yazooans still feel connected to their hometown.

No matter where they are now, they always consider themselves Yazooans.

They still value the friendships they made, and they often reflect fondly on life in the Yazoo community.

For over 40 years, Yazoo Day has offered Yazoo natives a chance to reconnect. Over the years the event has become more than a reunion. It has become an opportunity to give back to Yazoo.

“Yazoo Day” dates back to the early 1970s,” said Juanita Lear, who serves as secretary for the Yazoo Day Planning Committee. “Yazooans who had relocated to other places started meeting together to have what equaled to a hometown reunion.”

Some of those reunions were held in other cities where a large number of Yazooans had relocated. In the early days a Yazoo Day reunion was held in Yazoo City every five years.

“These gatherings evolved into the formation of Yazoo Clubs that would meet each year in one of nine locations: New York, Detroit, Warren and Toledo, Ohio; Chicago; St. Louis, Los Angeles and, of course, Yazoo City,” Lear said. “Though the number of affiliates has decreased, the passion and excitement for these gatherings remain just as if each year were the first.”

Yazoo started out as a fun opportunity to visit with old friends, but before long it also evolved into a community service project.

“Originally, the purpose was solely for entertainment, where home folks gathered, socialized, cooked, ate, reminisced, and just enjoyed a fun-filled weekend,” Lear said. “Very early on, however, the idea surfaced that the clubs could be much more productive, such as adopting a project to improve the living conditions in their specific communities, as well as back home. This idea caught on like wildfire, so much so, that many have benefited via one of the projects that resulted.”

Community service became such an important part of Yazoo day that the clubs even became competitive about it.

“Clubs now even vie against each other in giving back to the community by determining which club  has sponsored or initiated the highest number of projects over the year,” Lear said. “In fact, at the business meeting each year, the agenda calls for a sharing period or ‘show and tell’ time when each club affiliate makes a report that details its civic/community service activities for the year.”

Some of the projects that the local Yazoo Hometowners Club has adopted include: sponsoring “Christmas Cheers” for the needy, supporting the Oakes Cultural Center, luncheons and dinners for senior citizens, sponsoring local students for Boys and Girls State, providing uniforms for children in need and supporting other worthwhile causes.

This year’s celebration will be held this week from July 5-7.Some of the activities include a meet and greet night, a record hop, the annual business meeting, formal dinner-dance banquet, membership drive, card games, and dominos, attending the church of your choice, or any other family-oriented affair.

Previous events have been so well-attended that every hotel room in Yazoo City was full.

Lear said the most important thing is for participants to enjoy the fellowship and celebrate the friendships and community spirit that make Yazoo so special.

“It is the desire of the Yazoo Hometowners that you enjoy a happy, glorious, and memorable weekend,” Lear said. “By all means, let the love, pride, and heritage begun ‘back then,’ be perpetuated by celebrations of Yazoo Day in the years to come.