Diana Whitfield remembers when Clear Creek Road was a dirt road. It didn’t lead to a university or to a huge airport.
It led to her home.
“It was called Rural Route 3 and my daddy owned a few acres out here. This is where I grew up — this is my home,” Whitfield said Saturday afternoon. “I remember when most of this wasn’t here.”
Once her youthful stomping grounds, now the land has been developed and a trailer park stands at 7200 South Clear Creek Road, where she and her siblings once rode horses. A club house stands near the Killeen airport that her now-adult children built and often played on, a testament to her roots.
“I’ve seen this place built from the ground up,” she said. “From an empty piece of land to a wonderful neighborhood with exceptional people.”
Which is why on Saturday, Whitfield, with the help of her younger sister, Charrissa Smith, organized the inaugural Potluck Park Party so the community could come together and celebrate the Fourth of July as well as their familial connections.
“We take care of each other here, we are tight-knit — a family,” she said. “It upsets me when other people stereotype us as ‘trailer trash’ and worse.
“So I started this to show the world how much pride and love this park holds.”
Children ran around with water balloons and squirt guns, spraying their giggling siblings or their slightly annoyed parents, while several adults prepared the last-minute details for the party.
From brisket to chicken enchilada salad, the menu was as diverse as the party-goers themselves, along with key grilling items such as burgers and hot dogs. About 100 people prepared games, cooked food and helped set up the party — all to help end the negative stereotypes.
“We have such positive feelings here,” Whitfield said. “If you spend all your time focusing on the negative you are gonna miss the brisket.
Charrissa Smith gave all credit to her sister for the idea, but acknowledged that it couldn’t have been done without the help of the whole community.
“Every neighborhood has its bad sides, but does every neighborhood form like this to celebrate together?” she said. “I don’t think so. We have a very special thing here, and it’s time for the rest of the community to see that.”