Lufkin Fourth Grader Receives Statewide Recognition
According to a release from the Lufkin Independent School District, Daniel Lanigan, 10, is a finalist in Land Commissioner George P. Bush's writing contest titled Save Texas History for his story on a local legend, Rudolph the Red Nosed Pumping Unit. Daniel is a fourth grader at Brandon Elementary, and his social studies teacher, Mrs. Lorraine Dorman,recommended him along with other classmates to participate in the contest.
Mrs. Dorman said, "This is actually the first time I have ever heard of the contest; I gave the information to several students encouraging them to participate, but Daniel ended up being the only one of my students to enter the contest."
Daniel said, “I wrote about Rudolph the Red Nosed Pumping Unit at Lufkin Industries and how if it was removed, there would be much disappointment for Lufkin and the surrounding areas. It was an expository.”
The topic for the expository was "What History in your Community is Worth Saving?" Daniel said he got the idea about the pumping unit from Aidan Cox, a high school student who was in the attendance office where his mom works. He titled his story "It's Christmas Time in Lufkin, Texas".
He said, "It took about two days to write. Editing, grammar, spelling, making sure it was 450 words, took about two weeks."
Mrs. Dorman said, "Daniel is an incredibly hard working student who enjoys challenges and can always be counted on to go above and beyond what is expected. I knew he would be interested in the contest because he has a great love for the history of Texas and is very enthusiastic about Texas history. Daniel is an exceptional student, and I am very proud of him for taking the initiative to enter the contest and being one of the finalists in the state!"
For being a finalist, Daniel received some impressive prizes shown in the picture below. He won a Texas flag that was flown on August 15th over the most northern part of the original state of Texas, which Daniel said is in present-day Wyoming. He received a $100 Visa gift card (he doesn't quite know how he wants to spend it yet). He won a beautiful ornament, a Texas calendar, an 1835 replica map of the Republic of Texas and a bullet/musket plaque.
When Daniel is not writing about history, he's playing basketball and baseball (his favorite), participating on the Ambush swim team and Boy Scouts. He wants to attend Rice University and become an architect who designs bridges.
Daniel's award winning expository is below...by the way, Daniel, thanks for the KICKS 105 shout out!
It’s Christmas Time in Lufkin, Texas
On November 18, 2017, the people of Lufkin, Texas gathered in the parking lot at
the Lufkin Mall to witness the collision of two episodes in the community’s history. “The
Thundering 13”, the 2017 U.S. Little League baseball champions, lit the Rudolph
pumping unit and the start of the Christmas holiday season was marked for the 51st year in a row.
For many years the Lufkin Mall parking lot has become a local historical
landmark with the arrival and lighting of Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer. People
make trips through Lufkin just to get a glimpse of it. In 1967, when Lufkin Industries
provided a pump-jack decked out as Rudolph, a local historical landmark was
established. Lufkin Industries provided, assembled, maintained, disassembled,
transported, and stored Rudolph for forty-eight years, until General Electric purchased
Lufkin Industries in 2016.
Since Rudolph’s arrival in 1967, generations have come together and watched his
lighting as a family to start the Christmas season. Grandparents and great-grandparents
come with their families to watch the pumping unit light up Lufkin’s night sky. Mrs.
Edwina Mills, a Lufkin High School teacher, remembers the first lighting at the Lufkin
Industries Foundry on Angelina Avenue in 1967. According to her, Rudolph was moved
to the Lufkin Mall from the Foundry, so that more people in the area could admire him
driving around the loop. There was also more room at the mall for spectators to watch
People were afraid that Lufkin’s Christmas landmark would disappear with the
transfer in ownership of Lufkin Industries to General Electric. People in the Lufkin
community organized and signed a petition for General Electric to save Rudy and they
responded. Rudolph the Red Nosed Pumper would remain as a Lufkin historical
landmark for years to come.
Rudolph’s lights can be seen from miles away as people travel through Lufkin on
Interstate 69. Because Lufkin is a hub city for east Texas, people from all over the
region know about his popularity. Local radio stations and television stations, such as
KICKS FM 105 and KTRE9, broadcast the annual lighting of pumper jack Rudy.
People from all over the Gulf Coastal Plains region flock to Rudolph to capture their
annual Christmas pictures.
If Rudy were to be removed from the Lufkin community, there would be much
disappointment. Because of the recent purchase of Lufkin Industries by GE, many
people lost their jobs. Because of layoffs people had to move away from Lufkin. People
remember Rudolph from their childhood. Since the closure of Lufkin Industries, pump-
jacks are no longer manufactured in Lufkin. However, one can drive throughout Texas
and still see the Lufkin Industries name on pump-jacks being used. Our Rudolph is the
only pump-jack in the Lufkin area that unites the community to remember such a vital
part of our local history. If GE were to ever stop this holiday tradition, our community
would have a hard time finding something to replace it.