Kudos for kindness
Each October, more than 1,000 local residents gather along the border between Texarkana, Texas, and Texarkana, Arkansas, for an event that promotes togetherness. This get-together has drawn some really nice kudos from Reader’s Digest.
The magazine just named Texarkana the nicest place in Texas and Arkansas in recognition of the community’s yearly Dine on the Line event. For its “Nicest Places in America” campaign, Reader’s Digest picks one spot in each state that “exemplifies kindness and civility in a time of American divisiveness.”
At Dine on the Line, folks from both sides of the border assemble for food, fun, and fellowship at a 1,200-foot-long dinner table straddling State Lane Avenue, which divides the two Texarkanas. About 37,000 people live on the Texas side and about 30,000 on the Arkansas side; Texarkana is roughly 180 miles northeast of Dallas, just barely a three-hour drive. Texarkana, Texas, was the birthplace of the late Dallas billionaire Ross Perot.
The event, which marked its fifth year in 2019, serves as the main fundraiser for the Main Street Texarkana program, which supports downtown revitalization efforts.
“In most places, a dividing line acts to separate people. In this border town, the line brings folks together,” Reader’s Digest notes.
Elected officials on both sides of the state line embrace that approach.
“You want to focus on working together as one community,” Bob Bruggeman, mayor of the Texas side, tells Reader’s Digest. “We don’t talk about ourselves as Texarkana, Texas, and Texarkana, Arkansas; we market ourselves as ‘two cities, one community.’”
Indeed, each Texarkana has a mayor, a city council, a police department, and a fire department, but the two cities blend as one.
“It is not uncommon to see stories in the local newspaper and on social media about citizens going the extra mile to be nice to others,” says Texarkana’s nomination for the Reader’s Digest honor.
If you’re curious about visiting the nicest place in Texas and Arkansas, Texarkana offers stock car races, minor-league baseball, art exhibits, festivals, and the annual Four States Fair, according to the Texarkana USA Chamber of Commerce. Highlights include the Discovery Place Interactive Museum; the Owl’s Nest Flea Market; the Phillip McDougal Trail, a 1.7-mile loop that circles Spring Lake Park; and Perot Theatre, the region’s performing arts center.
Through the Perot Foundation, Perot and his sister Bette contributed much of the money for restoration of the namesake theater in memory of their parents. The Texarkana (Texas) City Council renamed the landmark, which dates back to 1924, in honor of the Perots.
In Reader's Digest's nationwide search for the nicest cities in America, Columbiana, Ohio took top honors.
An initial search received more than 1,000 submissions of stories of places across America "where people are kind and civility is winning," they say. After editors culled the entries and narrowed the finalists, a nationwide poll drew over 45,000 votes.