Hannibal News

Hannibal crowns new Tom and Becky

Colin Brown and Riah Whigfall pose after being announced as this year's "Tom and Becky" at Central Park in Hannibal, Mo., Saturday July 4, 2020. The two will be representing Hannibal at every major event in town for the next year.
H-W Photo/Katelyn Metzger
By BEV DARR
Special to the Herald-Whig
bdarr@courierpost.com
Posted: Jul. 5, 2020 12:01 am Updated: Jul. 5, 2020 12:26 am

HANNIBAL, Mo. — Colin Brown and Riah Wigfall learned they are Hannibal's official Tom Sawyer and Becky Thatcher during the Tom and Becky Pageant on Saturday in Central Park.

They will represent Hannibal as Tom and Becky goodwill ambassadors for the next year, serving until July 4, 2021.

Colin, the son of Jeff and Brea Brown, is looking forward to "meeting new people and just being the character of Tom Sawyer." He is an experienced actor who portrayed Aladdin in the Hannibal Middle School production.

Colin believes he, "can relate to a lot of things Tom Sawyer did, such as his love of adventure." However, as Tom, Colin "will try to stay out of trouble."

As Becky, Riah, the daughter of Jessica Homeyer, is looking forward to "a nice summer and helping support my community." She has lived in Hannibal for five years, and remembers visiting seven years ago.

Riah's future goal is, "I just want to be successful." Earlier, as each finalist spoke to the crowd, Riah thanked the businesses and agencies that helped with the orientation for the contest.

Although the official Tom and Becky will represent Hannibal at special events, all 10 finalists will be busy for the next year, taking part in numerous events.

The additional Tom finalists and their parents, were Jared Locke, Jeff and Kori Locke; Aiden Odom, Eugene (E.J.) and Angie Odom; Maddox Tharp, Richard and Stacie Tharp; and Kendrick Wilson, Nathan and Jennifer Wilson.

The other Becky finalists and their parents were Emilia Bates, Rick and Kara Bates; Piper Harvey, Lance and Steffi Harvey; Harper Karr, Lance and Meghan Karr; and Alana Lemon, James and Anna Lemon.

Melissa Cummins, coordinator of the Tom and Becky Program, which is sponsored by the Mark Twain Boyhood Home and Museum, said the Toms and Beckys will make 200 appearances in 2020 and 2021.

One duty will be introducing the musicians at the Music Under the Stars concerts at the Mark Twain Boyhood Home mall on Thursday nights. The Toms and Beckys also will greet people on weekends in the museum area along North Main Street.

Cummins also told the crowd that this year the group hopes to travel to the Mark Twain Home in Hartford, Conn., "as soon as possible," although the retiring Toms and Beckys did not have this opportunity. This was among events canceled by the COVID-19 pandemic. She thanked the local agencies that have helped with the program, adding, "It takes a village to operate the Tom and Becky program."

Gail Bryant, executive director of the Hannibal Convention and Visitors Bureau, thanked the retiring Toms and Beckys for "doing a wonderful job," noting they met the people arriving in Hannibal on riverboats and were always popular for posing in pictures with tourists. She said the HCVB has donated $1,500 to the program.

The retiring Toms and Beckys for 2019-2020 were Preston Danner and Lanie Privett, the official couple. Alternate Toms were Josiah Campbell, Cameron Cox, Tristen Essig and Jack Myers, and alternate Beckys were Jocelyn Dorsey, Courtney Locke, Annabelle Peck and Tallin Sims.