Happy Hill Garden Reunion celebrates 22nd year

Happy Hill Garden Reunion celebrates 22nd year
July 16
00:00 2015

In above photo:  Reunion co-founders William “Rock” Bitting, left, and Ben Piggott present Maurice Johnson an award from the reunion committee. (Submitted Photo)

By Felecia Piggott-Long, Ph.D.

For The Chronicle

The New Dynamic Voices of Praise welcomed the community to the 22nd annual Happy Hill Garden Reunion.

They sang about prayer, praise and love as the elements that have held members of the community together over the years.

William “Rock” Bitting and Ben Piggott, co-founders of the reunion since its inception in 1994, served as the masters of ceremonies.

Bitting grew up in Happy Hill. He is proud to have a connection to such a respected neighborhood.

“One of the main goals we have for this reunion is to delete stereotypes that have been used to limit those who lived here in Happy Hill,” said Bitting. “This has always been a great community. Stand up and give yourselves a hand for living in it.”

Many native sons and daughters stood and cheered for their heritage in Happy Hill.

Happy Hill Garden is the oldest liberated African-American community in North Carolina.

The 22nd annual Happy Hill Garden Reunion was held at the William C. Sims Recreation Center on Friday, July 10.

More than 100 supporters attended the gathering.

Piggott, Bitting and the reunion committee decided to restructure the organization of the reunion based on the Five R’s – respect, reconnect, recommit, replenish and revive.

In the spirit of these values, the committee conducted a reunion survey to determine who the supporters are, their willingness to contribute time, talent, and resources to continue the reunion for a full weekend as it has been done in the past and their evaluations for improvements.

Cedric Moser was the master of music.

East Ward Councilman Derwin Montgomery and Tim Grant, Winston-Salem Recreation and Parks Director, brought greetings to the community.

Poet Vanessa Ware, author of the book Love Fire, and Actor and Spoken Word Artist Tim Howell wowed the crowd with poetry.

Minister Johnell (Debra) Hunter of The Bless the Children Family Outreach Gardens directed the children in playing African instruments for the audience.

Maurice Johnson, a member of the Happy Hill Reunion Committee, shared the history of the Happy Hill Reunion.

The theme for the evening was “The Importance of the Father in the Community.”

Three speakers addressed this topic: Thomas Orr, Phillip Carter, and Ricky Graves. Each of them received a certificate of participation.

The Happy Hill Senior Citizen’s Club received recognition for their support of the community and their strong love for Piggott’s mother Mae Clarida Piggott, a member of the club for 22 years.

Piggott presented awards to fathers in the audience.

Johnny “Peanut” Austin, 50, received recognition for being the youngest father in the house.

Hubert Rice, 74, who lived on Foster Street, received an award for being the most “seasoned father” in the reunion.

Artist Jerry Hanes received recognition for being the most creative father.

His paintings are widely recognized.

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