Lewton and Nichols Named New Tom and Becky During National Tom Sawyer Days [Video + Photo Gallery]
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Hannibal’s official Tom and official Becky have been named for 2013 – 2014. During a noon ceremony at Central Park, the Hannibal Chamber of Commerce announced that Nathan Lewton and Ashlyn Nichols had been chosen as Hannibal’s new city ambassadors.
As is tradition, the outgoing Tom – Lucas Cline – presented the new Becky with a slate, and outgoing Becky – Brooke Burton – presented the new Tom with a fishing pole.
The Tom and Becky program is open to interested seventh graders in Hannibal who compete by giving speeches, interviews, and by completing two written tests: one on Mark Twain and one on Hannibal. Ten finalists for the Tom and Becky program are then selected. These finalists make appearances for the Chamber of Commerce locally, state-wide and even nationally, before the official Tom and official Becky are named on July 4.
2013 – 2014 Tom and Becky finalists were Keaton Bartz, John Fowler, Cooper Lewis, Nathan Lewton, Ayden Nichols, Emilee Carleton, Olivia Clark, Hannah Laws, Shelbie Mays and Ashlyn Nichols.
The Tom and Becky program in Hannibal dates back to 1956, when KETC-TV from St Louis, Missouri brought 1200 children to Hannibal to tour Mark Twain points of interest. The Hannibal Chamber of Commerce announced that they would sponsor a contest among Hannibal seventh graders to portray Tom Sawyer and Becky Thatcher in conjunction with this visit. The program was designed so that young people from Hannibal could serve as ambassadors for the city and its tourist industry.
Tom’s and Becky’s have participated in parades not only locally, but nationally as well. They have made appearances in California, Washington, D.C., Florida, New York, Minnesota, Iowa, Kentucky, Pennsylvania, Texas, Arizona, Kansas, Ohio, Tennessee, Illinois and of course the state of Missouri over the years. They have visited Japan (twice), Canada (twice), and Mexico. They have made appearances at schools, libraries, ground breaking ceremonies, conventions, tour buses, ribbon cuttings, festivals, riverboat dockings, local functions, civic groups, state fairs, county fairs, etc. During the summer on Friday and Saturday you can see Tom and Becky strolling in the Mark Twain Historic District. They have greeted presidents, vice presidents, first ladies, and governors. They have had their pictures in magazines and newspapers around the world. They have been in movies, travel films, and on TV news programs throughout the United States. Each year they visit Calaveras County, California for the Jumping Frog Jubilee and Elmira, New York to represent Hannibal and their Mark Twain heritage.” – hannibalchamber.org