Drive-Through Parade winner gives prize money to cousin

Mark Wilson
Piper Pillow shows her affection for her little cousin, Harper Damron.

What potentially could have been a disappointing ending to the Fourth of July weekend in Glen Rose ended instead on a bright note, thanks to an unselfish 9-year-old girl.

The winner of the $500 prize provided by the Glen Rose Chamber of Commerce in the inaugural “On the Map” Drive-Through Parade decoration contest went to Piper Pillow and her family, for their “Uncle Sam and Lady Liberty” display on the front lawn of their home. The display not only was a celebration of Independence Day, but was also to mark Piper’s 9th birthday.

As part of their festive front-yard display, Piper was decked out as the Statue of Liberty while her older brother Jaxon was in a blowup suit playing the role of Uncle Sam.

Saturday’s Drive-Through Parade idea came from Kristen Gibson, the director of the Glen Rose Convention and Visitors Bureau, after COVID-19 concerns resulted in the cancellation of the annual parade through downtown Glen Rose.

And as the first-place display, Piper told her mother she wanted to give the prize money to the family of her 2-year-old cousin, Harper Damron of Glen Rose.

Harper, daughter of Jeff and Crystal Damron, had surgery on Tuesday of this week at Cook Children’s Medical Center in Fort Worth to repair her cleft palette inside her mouth. She had already had three previous surgeries to repair physical problems — on her heart, jaw and back.

Although the Damrons have health-care insurance, they have to meet a high deductible before the coverage kicks in, Casey said.

“Piper wanted to donate the money to my niece to help pay for her surgery and anything else she needed,” said Piper’s mother, Casey Pillow. “It was all her idea. She loves that little girl. She said, “Momma, if I win I want to donate the money to them. I hugged her. It was a proud Momma moment.

“That girl’s got a big heart, and she always thinks about other people. She’s always been like that.”

Piper, an A/B Honor Roll student and FFA member, will be a fourth grader this fall at Glen Rose Elementary School.

Casey said that Piper is “obsessed” with her little cousin, “And Harper loves her.”

Piper said she wanted to donate the prize money “Because I love her and I want to help as much as I can. I just love helping people. I just can’t wait for her to be home.”

Casey Pillow said that Harper’s surgery on Wednesday went well, closing a hole in the roof of her mouth. Now the focus will be on controlling her pain during recovery from that surgery.

“If everything goes well, after two weeks then she’s good to go,” Casey said. “She still has a couple of surgeries to go. She’s going to be one tough cookie.”

Casey said that Harper’s mother, Crystal, is an emergency room nurse in the Glen Rose Medical Center and her father, Jeff, is a scuba diver and supervisor for the Brazos River Authority.

THE CONTEST

The Uncle Sam and Lady Liberty display received 339 votes for the win. Front Porch Designs and Whole Heart Offerings was second with 297 votes. Third place was earned by Red White & Blue Yard (Irene Lerma), with 198 votes.

There were 21 entries, two exhibition entries, and the Field of Flags was also featured on the drive-through parade route.

Gibson noted that more than 2,200 votes were cast in the contest between the hours of 10 a.m. and 11:59 p.m. on July 4. She said that the Google map link was clicked on more than 1,200 times in all.

Piper Pillow (as the Statue of Liberty) and her brother Jaxon (as Uncle Sam) pose Saturday with their little cousin, Harper Damron, in front of the winning display in the "On the Map" Drive-Through Parade for the Proud to be an American Fourth of July celebration in Glen Rose.