Parade honoring Bennett, other champions scheduled in Pierce County
Blackshear native led Georgia Bulldogs to national title last week
BLACKSHEAR, Ga. (WTOC) - From the moment the confetti fell in Indianapolis for Georgia’s national championship victory last week, folks in Blackshear have been asking one simple question.
When would the town celebrate Stetson Bennett IV, the native son who just guided the Bulldogs to their first title in 41 years?
“If I had a dollar for every time somebody asked me if we were having a parade, I could buy a really nice pair of shoes,” laughs Pierce County Main Street-Hometown Manager Bethany Strickland.
Now there is an answer.
Pierce County will celebrate Bennett and all of the community’s recent champions with a Champions Parade on Sunday, January 30 at 2:00 p.m. The parade route will be announced at a later time.
Bennett made his mark as a Georgia Bulldog legend over the past season. The former walk-on took over as the Bulldogs’ starting quarterback midway through the 2021 campaign, leading the Bulldogs to a 33-18 victory over Alabama in the national championship game.
As Bennett’s legend grew among the Georgia faithful, so did the pride in his hometown.
“People wanted it so bad. Even if they aren’t connected to him personally,” says Strickland. “Every single football coach, every single sport’s coach is going to use his story from now on until forever here.”
While the route is still being worked out, those putting on the celebration say folks in town won’t be able to miss it.
Pierce County Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Sarah Gove says they’ve gotten inquiries from people in neighboring counties who want to join in. Gove says they expected the celebration to be big, but even they’re not fully sure what to expect.
“I don’t think there’s ever been anything like that here. I don’t even know what to base it on,” laughs Gove. “In 1996, The Olympics came through Pierce County and there was a passing of the torch here. That’s probably the closest thing.”
While Bennett’s presence will be the main event of the parade, the celebration will be honoring all the community’s champions from the past two years.
“We just thought looking back because of COVID and because of what happened with our high school football team in 2020, they didn’t really get to have a celebration,” Strickland says. “So we will start with 2020 and if you are in Pierce County and won any championship, from FFA state land judging to rec football to national FFA champions to Beta Club, you can be in the parade.”
Gove says it’s a chance to honor their champions, but also celebrate their community and the pride people have in it.
“We are proud of each other. We’re proud of the town that we’re from,” she says. “We are proud of that sense of community. There’s really nothing like it. ”
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