Mile 2 E Features Interesting Mix Of Mercedes History
Mile 2 East Road has a history along its byway that is unique to Mercedes.
Heading north, there is Heidelberg, the site where German settlers came to a young city in the early 1900s. Those early families prided themselves on self-reliance. The German-American families purchased and configured their own bus to take the children of Heidelberg to Mercedes schools.
Just down Mile 2 E from Heidelberg is the spot where Lloyd Nolen and a group of World War II veterans started up Rebel Field. It is from this spot were Nolen and his associates worked to restore and preserve WW II-era aircraft. Nolen’s Confederate Air Force would stage elaborate and flamboyant air shows featuring the historic planes along Mile 2 E in the 1960s.
The shows attracted huge crowds to Mercedes and with it national fame with a Sports Illustrated story written by a legendary American sportswriter – Dan Jenkins. The glories the CAF would go on to achieve as it moved to Harlingen and beyond originated on Mile 2 E in Mercedes.
There was another notable spot on Mile 2 E. It’s across Expressway 77/83, just to the south of an underpass near the Rio Grande Valley Premium Outlets, and it would become to be known as “Carnyville.’’ It was a landing spot for Dave Reese and his array of carnival rides and funhouses. For decades, this landing spot is where Reese would winter and idle his carnival equipment and rides as he waited for warmer weather to head up north again on the circuit.
It was the early 1980s when Jay Harvey Moore came to his spot on Mile 2 E. Moore was a carnival man himself of many years and was looking to move his operations from Laredo to the Rio Grande Valley. He knew Reese and heard the latter was thinking of retiring. Moore took the opportunity to make “Carnyville’’ for his own headquarters in Mercedes.
The Moore family has been in the city ever since. In 2020, Moore’s sons – Rickey and Garry – house their carnivals in Mercedes at the same spot where Reese and their patriarch based their own carnivals. Garry Moore Amusements and Rickey’s Moore Greater Shows are based on Mile 2 E. It’s where Garry’s daughter. Mary Hart, grew up.
“The other kids would say, `she’s a carny,’ ’’ she recalled. “I was proud of it. I grew up working, being independent, earning my own money.’’
The Moore family of carnivals has been quieted for now with the outbreak of COVID-19. They hope soon enough to hit the road again from the same Mercedes road where German immigrants settled and vintage WW II planes flew, thrilling crowds, from fun houses of carnivals to daring air shows up above.
“We love the Valley,’’ Rickey Moore said. “Mercedes has been great for us and we’re happy to call it home.
- Ricardo D. Cavazos