By Kathleen Swift

Photos by Artistic Expressions Photography

Lifelong residents of Carthage, Gary Haggard and Terry Prine, will be honored as grand marshals of the Maple Leaf Festival parade this year. Lovingly nicknamed Tree and Stump, the two men have been attending Carthage sporting events since they were in high school in the 1970s, and sometime in the 1990s, they left the bleachers and have been on the sidelines assisting the teams.

No one knows for sure how Gary (Tree) and Terry (Stump) got their nicknames, but it’s been said that Gary is the taller of the two men, and you can’t have a tree without a stump.

Known for their enthusiastic support of football, basketball and baseball, the two men are superfans when it comes to Carthage athletics. Barb Graue, a Carthage resident and retired teacher, told us, “Tree and Stump both ride bicycles to the games and to practices and help with water for the athletes and holding attendance clipboards during football games. They help with water for basketball, and during baseball season, Tree runs the scoreboard and Stump helps with equipment.”

James Kinder, a friend of the two men and a former Carthage coach and athlete said, “These guys are so supportive of Carthage and Carthage athletics. I remember when I was in high school, they were both always at our games. One year, we were on the bus heading to play in a conference game at Webb City, and we passed Tree on his bike headed to the game. He was determined to get there. The coach stopped the bus, and we picked him up so he would get there in time for the game, and Coach later took him home. That is real dedication and support for our Carthage teams. Everybody in town knows and loves these men.”

Many Carthage residents nominated the two to be grand marshals because of their unfailing support of Carthage over the last 50 years. But being named to the honor came as a surprise to the two men.

“I guess we are more famous than I thought,” said Stump when discussing his role as grand marshal. “It’s an honor and a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”

Tree’s favorite part of being a part of the team includes “watching practice and helping the coaches hold the clipboard. Running the scoreboard in baseball is one of my favorites and handing out water to the players during basketball. It feels good, and being loyal to my hometown where I grew up and went to school is important to me.”

Stump is also honored by the title of grand marshal. “It feels good! It feels like an honor. I enjoy winning ball games the most. I hope we win state in football again! Getting to talk to the players and being a part of the team is my favorite part. It feels great! If I wasn’t here daily, the players would wonder where I was. I think loyalty is HUGE, and I put my whole heart into being a Carthage Tiger!”

That kind of dedication and loyalty marks Tree and Stump as the perfect representatives of the Carthage spirit as they serve as grand marshals for the 2021 Maple Leaf Parade. The parade, to be held October 16, gives the residents of Carthage the opportunity to show their support for their community’s biggest fans.