Governor Parson visits Boonville during Bicentennial Tour

Chris Bowie
Boonville Daily News
Missouri's 57th Governor Mike Parson speaks to the crowd during his Bicentennial Tour Thursday at Thespian Hall in Boonville. The Show Me state joined the Union as the 24th state on August 10, 1821.
Missouri Governor Mike Parson makes his way through the crowd after giving a short speech on the steps of Thespian Hall during his Bicentennial Tour Thursday in Boonville.
Friends of Historic Boonville Executive Director Laura Wax introduces Missouri Governor Mike Parson during his Bicentennial Tour Thursday afternoon at Thespian Hall in Boonville.
Boonville resident Roy Stevens presents Missouri Governor Mike Parson with a framed picture of the Katy Bridge during the governor's Bicentennial Tour Thursday on the steps of Thespian Hall in Boonville.
Friends of Historic Boonville President Steve Litwiller shakes hands with Missouri Governor Mike Parson during the governor's Bicentennial Tour Thursday at Thespian Hall in Boonville.

Missouri’s 57th Governor Mike Parson made a brief stop in Boonville on Thursday during his Bicentennial Tour to honor the 200th anniversary of the great state of Missouri.

In addition to his speech on Missouri history in front of Thespian Hall in Boonville, Parson also addressed the crowd about the important milestones of 200 years since the Missouri Territory became the 24th state to enter the Union.

Friends of Historic Boonville Executive Director Laura Wax made a few comments before introducing Parson to the crowd. “We are so pleased to have our 57th Governor, Mike Parson, with us this afternoon at historic Thespian Hall as we celebrate the Bicentennial of the State of Missouri,” Wax said. “We love having the privilege of showing off our beautiful theater to visitors. Having a 164-year-old theater, is such a joy. Thespian Hall has had a hard life from serving as a hospital and barracks during the civil war to fighting potential demolition plans in the latter half of the 20th century. But she has persevered and stands proudly before us today, providing a picturesque backdrop.”

In celebration of the state’s bicentennial year, the Governor and the First Lady visited historical sites and communities across Missouri as part of a Bicentennial Tour from July to August. In addition to making a stop in Boonville on Thursday, Parson attended the Wonder Dog Museum and Garden in Marshall, Maclay House in Tipton, Clay Farms (a Missouri Founding Farm) in Jamestown, and spoke at the State Historical Society’s Together for ’21 Fest in Columbia.

The Governor and First Lady will also take part in several of the Missouri Bicentennial Commission's sponsored Statehood Day Events leading up to August 10.

 As part of Missouri's statewide bicentennial celebration, the Governor's Office will also be hosting a Bicentennial Inaugural Parade in Jefferson City on Saturday, September 18, 2021, at 10 a.m. to showcase Missouri’s past, present, and future. The Bicentennial Inaugural Parade will celebrate the swearing-in of Missouri's elected officials from this year's Bicentennial Inauguration as well as highlight the history and significance of all 114 counties across the state of Missouri. The Bicentennial Inaugural Ball will be held that evening following the parade at the Missouri State Capitol.

During his speech, Parson said as Missouri kicks off the Bicentennial events throughout the state of Missouri, Thespian Hall is one of the historical sites they want to showcase during the tour because of its history.

“As I travel the state of Missouri, I really think of who we are as Missourians, too, because I think it's a good time to reflect 200 years,” Parson said. “Now, for some of you here that maybe have a little gray hair like I do, and some of you maybe don't, and you're a little younger, I want you to just take a second. I you to think back at your family, your mothers and fathers, your grandparents, and think about the history of your own families, and then I want you to think of how much a part of that has been part of the history of the state of Missouri.”

Parson went on to say that quality of life also means something to the patrons of Missourians. He said why small town Boonville? Parson added that quality of life means something to Missourians.

“I truly do love the state and I love the people this state,” Parson said. “I love the values,  I love the Christian values, I love the work values, and I like the moral values. I like the people that love our country and we stand up for that. And I think what better time to do that. When we get to be here for a 200 celebration, one to celebrate the past, and one to look forward to the future, what is our history going to be, and how somebody’s going to look back at us during this time in history and say, what were the people here doing in Boonville?”

Parson added that on the 200th anniversary, so very few people are going to get to live through that portion of our history. He said he thinks how much history is unique.

“We started off this Bicentennial tour in Hannibal, Missouri, and I'm just going to go walk through a little bit of the stuff we've had, but I want you to think of the history of our state, and I want you to think of “the impact that all these people have had,” Parson said. “Let me start off with Mark Twain, we're all pretty familiar with Mark Twain as we grew up, you don't go too much further down the road and you'll find Walt Disney and what kind of impact he had in our country. You go just a little further down the road, you'll go to general person's hometown, the highest ranking military officer ever in our country come from Missouri. We were down in Marshfield. The Hubble telescope, Mr. Hubble lived in Marshfield, Missouri, amended the Hubble telescope.

“Think what that's done for our space industry over the years. Not too far, if you go on the east side, you go where Daniel Boone lived. Daniel Boone, the only property he ever owned, was in Missouri, by Defiance, Missouri and brought his family here. And if you go up the road a little further, you'll go to White Haven, where Ulysses S Grant lived and met his wife and farmed here in Missouri. But when you think of the history of Missouri, you think of all the unique people that’s been in our lives and all the hardships we've been through. It's been tough in the last 20 months for all of us as they are going through in our country, but let me assure you this, if you look back on our history, we have had much worse problems we've had to deal with in our lifetimes.”

Parson said this is also the 150th anniversary of the mansion. While growing up in a town of 356 people, Parson said living in a mansion was never on his bucket list but has had the privilege of doing that.

Parson also asked the crowd if anybody knew who the first guest of the Missouri mansion was.

“The first guest we're here to celebrate history I figured everybody to know this,” Parson said. “I didn't know it even though they told me when I got there, George Armstrong Custer was the first guest in the mansion. The other thing is I think it's kind of unique about it because I was at Jesse James’ birthplace the other day. If you go to the first floor of the mansion, to the left, is the old governor's office. It’s also where Frank James turned himself in to the governor, who later pardoned him. Another interesting thing about Frank James is that right after he got pardoned, he went to Dexter, Missouri, to judge a horse racing event.”

Parson said this is why it’s so important for Boonville to be represented on September 18 during the Bicentennial Parade: to be a part of history.  He said the parade will showcase the history of Missouri, all the way from Lewis and Clark, the Civil War through the automobile times.

“We would love to have you have an entry,” Parson reiterated to the Boonville patrons. “The Clydesdale horses will be there that day in the parade. We will also have a war nurse that will be the Grand Marshal the parade. She can still wear her uniform. All of the counties and cities will be represented during the parade. That night, you will be also invited to the Bicentennial Ball that will happens for the first time outside. It'll be open to the public and there will be a fireworks display. There'll be music before the event. And If you are a little on the sports minded side of it, we will have all the world champion trophies of the St. Louis Cardinals, Kansas City Royals, Kansas City Chiefs, and the St. Louis Blues on display at the same time.”

Lastly, Parson the reason you're here today is because what somebody's done before you. He said your parents and grandparents gave you that opportunity to be here today.

“It’s our time to celebrate our 200 anniversary but more importantly, it is our time to make sure we pass down what's been passed down to us to make sure people know who Missourians are and why we're so important in this country,” Parson said. “That's the great honor about being the governor of the state of Missouri is that I get to represent you every day. No better folks than the people right here in Missouri. It is a honor and privilege to be the 57th Governor of the great state of Missouri. God bless and thank you for having us here today.”

After Parson’s speech, Boonville resident Roy Stevens presented the 57th Governor with a framed picture of the Katy Bridge with former Missouri Governor Jay Nixon in 2006. With a rainbow in the background of the Katy Bridge, Parson jokingly asked Stevens if Nixon made the rainbow happen.

“I want to make sure the former governor didn't get credit for that,” Parson said. “But you saved the bridge?”

Stevens replied, “We did.”

The rest is history as the old Katy Bridge still stands to the day waiting to be connected between the two counties from Cooper to Howard.