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Fannin fans happy with park renovations (video)

By Jennifer Lee Preyss
June 24, 2012 at 1:24 a.m.
Updated June 25, 2012 at 1:25 a.m.

Robby Roden, Jim Glover, Jesse Glover and Richard Talesky stand next to a canon that they fired after the Fannin Monument rededication service at the Fannin Battleground State Historic Site on Sunday. The historic site memorializes those who died in the Goliad Massacre after Col. James W. Fannin surrendered to Mexican forces during the Battle of Coleto Creek.

FANNIN - Sitting beneath the Fannin Battleground state park pavilion Sunday, fanning the breeze with an old-fashioned paddle fan, Georgia Lee Swickheimer and Myra Heard watched as their favorite park was reintroduced to the public.

A year's worth of renovations to the park are complete, at the cost of more than $500,000, and the ladies were front and center as the Texas Historical Commission rededicated the historic site to about 100 attendees - each of them fanning the Texas heat away from their faces.

"I remember so many good times here," Heard, 64, said, mentioning her regular visits to the park when she was growing up. "The picnics we had every year were always my favorite. They've had them as long as I've been around."

Heard's grandfather E.N. Strong was the park's former groundskeeper, planting flowers and mowing the grass with cutters and a mule before the days of riding lawn mowers. He lived across the street from the park, Heard said, which made it easy for the entire family to frequent the park.

"They planted this pine tree here together," she said. "It's at least 85 years old, or older."

The park commemorates the location of where Col. James W. Fannin surrendered to Mexican troops at the Battle of Coleto Creek on March 20, 1836, during the Texas War for Independence. Fannin and his 342 men were later executed in Goliad.

The park itself is about 100 years old. Swickheimer's grandfather G.J. Swickheimer was one of the original Fannin residents who helped organize the historical site.

"I was very pleased when I heard they were going to restore the park. It was in disrepair because the economy wasn't doing well," said the 75-year-old Fannin native, who is also a member of the Goliad County Historical Commission. "It's important to keep up the park because men fought and died here for this country and they made the ultimate sacrifice for freedom."

For both ladies, the Fannin park has always been a place to celebrate and join the community for public celebrations, or simply stroll through the grounds and remember the past.

Upgrades include a new restroom building, upgrades to the bandstand with a historical exhibit on the lower level, and a new flag area and entrance.

"I know it's owned by the state, but the people of Fannin really feel like it's our park. We are so thankful to the Texas Historical Commission for restoring our park," Heard said. "It's our history, and it's Texas history."



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