The heat did little to keep Sealy residents from filling every nook and cranny at B&PW Park last weekend for the 11th annual Sealybration spectacular, full of music, food and good times.
It all got started Friday evening with food and margarita judging inside the W.E. Hill Community Center while the carnival that filled the rest of the park got underway overlooking the softball tournaments spanning all fields.
As the night wore on, more music filled the air with more and more coming through the front gates ready to celebrate with their community.
Cornhole bags were tossed, runners competed in 1 and 5K races before the headliner, Michael Salgado, played Friday night to a close.
Saturday morning it was right back at it and that’s exactly how Sealy Community Foundation’s president, Melanie Willingham, likes it.
“Friday night was awesome, we don’t have any final numbers on attendance, but Friday night was my favorite, seeing the community come together like that,” she said after the dust settled Monday.
Everyone was having so much fun, she noted, that nobody wanted it to end and so an overflow celebration continued just up the road.
“Friday night nobody wanted to go home and so the afterparty continued at Whataburger,” she said. “Somebody called me and said you need to come up and I went there, and it was packed; the drive-through was packed and the inside was so crowded.”
While the celebration was going on in the park bringing the entire community together, it truly took up every inch available.
“Our main goal is to add one new thing each year, so we try not to have the same old things over and over again,” Willingham said. “We’re still learning, we’ve already talked about what we need to change for next year but we’re outgrowing the park; we’re maxed out on softball teams we’re maxed out on vendors every year.
“One of my top three things for this year was for our cookoff, it was IBCA Sanctioned and we were able to make 51 teams which was a first for us,” she added. “The winner was able to qualify for the Jack Daniel’s World Championship Invitational Cookoff so that was huge for us.”
That grand champion, the Burning Money team, took home fifth place in the chicken competition, fourth in the ribs race and first overall in brisket for a total of 23 points and a punched ticket to the world championships.
Speaking of competitions, the winners of the Sound-off to Sealybration open-mic contest, Laz and Katie, took their spot in the limelight Saturday night right before the fireworks at a time of night they certainly appreciated.
“Beat the heat a little yeah we were in a good spot thankful for that,” Laz said. “God bless those who had to go during the middle of the day because it was hot, it’s still hot. Fireworks right at the end was some good timing.”
After all the lead-up to the big event, “It’s a strange concept that it’s all over now,” Katie added.
The duo got to revel in all the behind the scenes attention in a time that was also special to them.
“I think for me, seeing the background stuff, the backstage stuff, being part of that moment was cool for me,” Katie said. “I agree,” Laz added. “We felt special, I had a guy come up and say, ‘Can I grab a picture, my boss is a huge fan!’ It’s been a real humbling experience I'm real thankful.”
“Our two-year anniversary is coming up here in a couple of days and it all started out here in Sealy,” said Laz. “It’s kind of special to come right around this time of year again, we’re happy we’re just going to hang on and keep on going.”
The rest of the celebrations continued, and Willingham added it would not have been possible without the support of her board members, and their families who have created one big extended group of closeness.
“One of the things I loved the most about this year was our board is seven members and between us, we have anywhere between 18 and 20 kids but at one point during that weekend, we had those kids out there working at some point,” she said. "That’s the main thing for us, I was raised that you give back to the community that gives to you and to be able to pass this on to our children is just amazing.”
“And it’s not just our children; FFA was out there, Tiger Stage Company, the Class of 2020, those kids were out there working and that is what we do, not only so that we can give the donations but also that we teach the kids that you have to give back to the community,” Willingham said.
“There's no way I could do it without my board, they are all amazing, after doing this for 11 years now we’re a family,” she said. “Each person just comes together and if something’s lacking in one area we all just jump in to help we don’t just say, ‘So and so does this so we don’t help,’ we all just do it together and it’s just a great family that we all have and I may be president but we’re all one.”
Another group who was able to get this year’s event off without a hitch was the public works department and Director of Streets, Parks & Recreation, and Drainage, Lawrence Siska.
"I wanted to let you all know how amazing Lawrence and his guys are,” Willingham said in an email. “They have gone above and beyond for me, my board, and this community this past week. This wouldn’t happen without these guys and I truly wish that I had a way to let them know how much I enjoy and appreciate working with them. They were all happy and positive toward everything we needed despite the high-90 temperature."
Willingham closed with the note that the Sealy Community Foundation board is always looking for new ideas for anything and everything and those new thoughts don’t necessarily need to come from someone on the board.
“We’re always here for new ideas and for more people to help and come up with ideas and ways to help us out,” she closed. “We’re always open for options.”