AMARILLO, Texas (KAMR/KCIT) – Thanksgiving week on the High Plains is often a busy one, and 2022 has been no exception. However, holiday travel and bustle can make it easy to miss significant local stories as they break.

Here is a look at a few of the top stories on the High Plains from the week of Thanksgiving 2022, including updates on local sports, education, and entertainment.

Monday, Nov. 21

On Monday, the superintendent of the Littlefield Independent School District announced that Jimmy Thomas, the district’s athletic director and head football coach, died after a “brief illness.”

Thomas was the former athletic director and head football coach at Bushland High School, coached the Falcons for six years, and went on to be named principal at Channing High School in 2020 before serving as the head football coach in Littlefield in 2021 and 2022.

Also on Monday, West Texas A&M University Director of Athletics Michael McBroom announced that the Buffalo Football program has begun searching for a new head coach after the firing of Hunter Hughes.

McBroom said that the number of Division II wins that Hughes had over the last two seasons “hasn’t met the high expectations we have for each of our programs at WT.” However, he also expressed his gratitude and noted that the football program achieved “historical high marks” in the classroom including graduation rates under Hughes’ leadership.

Tuesday, Nov. 22

On Tuesday, spoke with Amarillo Independent School District officials in the wake of Monday’s regular meeting of the district’s board.

During the meeting, board members heard from over 30 community members regarding the recent implementation of the Amplify Texas Literacy Program at most of the district’s elementary school campuses.

As previously reported, some parents and educators criticized the new curriculum during the meeting, saying that some of its content did not meet their moral standards and is ultimately a “detrimental choice” for the district. Other parents and educators praised Amplify Texas, stating that while it is rigorous, they are seeing the positive impact of the curriculum on both the students and the teachers. 

Wednesday, Nov. 23

On Wednesday, the Amarillo Police Department released information regarding searches conducted at a local business and a local storage property, in which police seized over 13,000 alleged counterfeit items worth more than $16 million.

Two search warrants were conducted at Chino’s, along with a local storage property. Officials with the department said the search warrants were executed Monday and police seized more than 13,013 alleged counterfeit items, including brands like Gucci, Louis Vuitton, Nike and Rolex.

Thanksgiving Day, Nov. 24

Tascosa Belles practicing for their perfomance in the 95th Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade

During the 96th annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade on Thursday, the local Tascosa Belles dance team entertained the nation with their skills.

21 Belles, along with directors Debbie Plunk and Brooke Adams, traveled to New York City for the parade, which Plunk described has been a goal since the organization began 13 years ago.

“They even shed some tears because they didn’t understand the magnitude of what it encompassed until they were with the whole group going through practices and rehearsals,” shared Plunk. “They’re realizing what a great opportunity they’re actually a part of. So it’s just for the whole city and we love representing our school.”

Back at home on the High Plains, the City of Amarillo closed most of its departments and offices for the holiday according to its updated schedule. However, there were other businesses open across the city, including a few well-known restaurants.

Weather was also an important topic on the High Plains over the Thanksgiving holiday. Forecasts showed a chilly Thursday and upcoming weekend, with possibilities for some rain and snowfall.

On Thursday night, the Amarillo Fire Department also responded to a fire on the 3100 block of N Mirror. No injuries were reported in the fire.

Friday, Nov. 25

The High Plains is set for an eventful Friday, beginning with a rush of Black Friday sales events, coupons, and expert holiday season strategies.

However, a morning of great deals will also lead to the kick-off of the 18th annual Christmas Cash Barrel Race and holiday tradeshow from CBT Barrel Racing at the Amarillo National Center.

As announced by the Amarillo Convention and Visitors Bureau, CBT’s “Cowgirl Christmas” will run from Friday through Sunday, with scheduled events including a visit from Santa Claus on Saturday from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.

Also on Friday, the premiere of the Panhandle PBS documentary surrounding August’s historic performance of Beethoven’s “Missa Solemnis” will air at 8 p.m.

According to officials with Panhandle PBS, the premiere of “From the Heart: The Making of Beethoven’s Missa Solemnis in the Texas Panhandle” will also be followed by the full performance of the work. The one-night-only performance included more than 170 musicians from multiple Amarillo musical entities, including the Amarillo Symphony, Chamber Music Amarillo, the Amarillo Master Chorale, First Baptist Church as well as various higher education institutions like Amarillo College, Wayland Baptist University and West Texas A&M University.

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