Buchanan celebrates ‘Nicest Place in America’ honor Saturday

BUCHANAN — The “Nicest Place In America” was the place to be Saturday afternoon.

The Buchanan community gathered downtown to celebrate the city being recognized as “The Nicest Place In America” in 2020 by Reader’s Digest.

The city began the celebration with a parade at McCoy Pond Park, which featured the Buchanan High School Marching Band. The band led community members to the Common Stage, where those in attendance were treated to the city’s special presentation.

“I could not be prouder of our community,” said Buchanan Mayor Patricia Moore. “We have a vibe here that has resonated throughout the country and we’re so excited to share that with the entire nation.”

The presentation began with two videos, the first being the “Nicest Place In America” announcement on NBC’s The Today Show, and the other being A Reader’s Digest profile on the city of Buchanan.

After the videos, Mocassin Elementary School students Marisa Murdock, Reese Barry and Mia Wheat were called to the stage. The three girls were chosen as winners of the school’s essay contest and were asked to recite their essays, which were about what makes Buchanan special.

“Every summer, Buchanan has The Thrill on The Hill,” Murdock said. “This draws a lot of people out of the house and into their bathing suits. They turn the main road through town into a giant slip’n’slide. There are all kinds of fun and creative blow-up rafts that people bring to go down the hill on. The funny thing is, the water is very cold. It will turn your lips blue and gives you ‘chicken skin’. But it’s so much fun, you should try it.”

The city presenting certificates of appreciation to everyone who helped make the achievement happen, including Buchanan resident Deejra Lee, whose Black Lives Matter protest in June was highlighted by author and Nicest Place In America panelist Mitch Albom in the announcement video.

“When Buchanan residents show up, they really show up,” Lee said. “No matter what we’re doing, they always make sure they support. Going back to the march, that’s why it was special to do it here and why this is the nicest place in America.”

Lee was glad to be able to share this moment with her family.

“It’s great that my kids are able to see this,” she said. “I want them to be leaders in their community and hopefully this shows them they are capable of doing that.”

The ceremony concluded with a live performance from local band Van Dyke Review. The band is led by John Van Dyke, who wrote the letter to Reader’s Digest nominating Buchanan.

Buchanan has received increased recognition in recent weeks. According to Moore, the city has been receiving fan mail at city hall.

“I read a letter this morning from New York,” Moore said. “Someone actually sent us their copy of the article saying ‘congratulations’ and we’ve gotten other mail like that. We’ve had people write to us saying that we’re serving as an example to other communities and that people should look towards the small town to see what harmony is and how people can coexist without fighting all the time.”

Moore hopes the achievement will serve as a boon to the community.

“This has been a well-known secret here, locally,” Moore said. “But now that the secret is out, we hope that it brings a lot of opportunities for new business interest and we have several areas that are planning expansions. The opportunity is out there for us to really capitalize on our good will and good spirit and democracy.

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