By Terry Harpole
For the WPT
MABEN — A large crowd turned out Saturday morning to meet and honor one of their own at W.O. “Bill” Shivers Pavilion during “Johnthan Banks Day.”
The day’s activities began with a police-escorted parade on north Main Street to the park, where a large crowd was waiting for the honoree. Many of those present were Banks’ former high school coaches, his former high school football teammates and many other well-wishers.
Mayor Larry Pruitt welcomed the crowd and thanked the people for coming. He also thanked the local town board for helping put the program on, which he said would be an annual event every fourth Saturday in June.
Since a small child, Banks lived in Maben with his grandmother after the death of his father. Banks played football just up the road at East Webster High School in Cumberland.
After graduation from East Webster, he played four years at Mississippi State University. Banks is now set to play for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers after a second-round draft.
Out-of-town officials who came and spoke to the crowd included Rocky Felker, former MSU quarterback and coach, and now director of player personnel/high school relations there.
Felker said from Day 1, when he first met Banks, he “knew Johnthan was someone special, and a person who had a level head and wanted to further his education.” Felker also said he knew many people in the crowd had been strong influences on Banks.
After talks by many people, the town of Maben provided a barbecue plate lunch for all present. This was a day the people of Maben and the surrounding area will long remember.
PHOTO BY TERRY HARPOLE