GAINESVILLE, Tex. – This North Texas community, which annually invites living Medal of Honor veterans to a local celebration of their heroism, has been named the “most patriotic” small town in America for 2012.
The designation was earned in an online and judging team competition sponsored by Rand McNally, the travel guide and road atlas company, and USA Today, the national newspaper published by Gannett Co., Inc.
The contest results were announced Tuesday.
Gainesville, a town of 15,500 near the Oklahoma-Texas border, won the honor over five other finalists: Deland, Fla.; Duluth, Ga.; Enterprise, Ala.; Mandan, N.D., and Watertown, N.Y. It will receive special mention in Rand McNally atlas publications and global positioning systems.
It was the second year of the Rand McNally-USA Today “Best of the Road” contest (www.bestoftheroad.com). Small towns across America are invited to nominate themselves by sending in videos of their highlights. Online visitors to the website then vote for their favorites, and a two-person judging team that visits the finalist towns.
Winners are announced after the judging team visits each of the communities and blogs about their impressions.
Separate voting and judging teams also selected the “most beautiful” small town (Bardstown, Ky.), “most fun” (Delray Beach, Fla.), “friendliest” (Murray, Ky.), and “best for food” (Santa Fe, N.M.).
The “most patriotic” judging team said Gainsville stood out for its restored, late 19th century downtown as well as its standing as the country’s only “Medal of Honor Host City.”
For the past decade, Gainesville has annually invited living winners of the Congressional Medal of Honor, the nation’s highest military combat award, to attend a celebration of appreciation in the community. Activities include a motorcycle escort from the Dallas-Fort Worth Airport to Gainsville, a local parade and tree plantings in the name of each of the attendees.
The town renamed the main parade street “Medal of Honor Boulevard” to further honor the war heroes.
Lynette Pettigrew, executive director of the Gainsville Chamber of Commerce, said the designation as the most patriotic small town in America will bring national recognition to the community.
“It’s an incredibly proud moment,” said Mayor Jim Goldsworthy.
Details for this story were provided by the Gainesville, Tex., Daily Register and www.bestoftheroad.com.