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Mother of the Year Kelly Plante looks forward to return of RiverFest

PORT NECHES — Thousands of people will participate in some form or fashion at this year’s Port Neches RiverFest, but the reigning mother of the year has a special group in mind.

“I’m most excited for all the kids to get out and get back to some kind of normalcy,” Kelly Plante said. “I hope they go out there, ride all the rides, watch the boat races, dance, eat and have fun. These kids need to get outside and have the opportunity to be kids.”

Plante was named Port Neches Chamber of Commerce 2020 Mother of the Year during a surprise May 6, socially distanced ceremony in her front yard, because COVID precautions canceled the 2020 festival and all of its pageantry.

The Mother of the Year ceremony is returning this year to RiverFest, where the 2021 honoree will be announced at 1:30 p.m. May 2 at Acadian Ambulance Pavilion.

Chamber Executive Director Debbie Plaia said having community members like Plante contribute to Port Neches adds to the city’s family feel.

“With COVID happening, Kelly did so much for students: Project Graduation, Adopt-a-Senior, the Easter Bunny and hiding the eggs. It was an honor to recognize her,” Plaia said. “We received a lot of letters nominating her, as well.”

Plaia said festival organizers are looking forward to continuing the tradition this year by celebrating another mother at RiverFest.

Plante will be more than a spectator at the event, because she volunteers for the Chamber to help with RiverPasses.

“I’ve always been involved in the community,” she said. “If I didn’t have to work fulltime, I would volunteer everywhere I could. Giving back to people is just very big in my heart. I love to volunteer. I love to help people. It is something that I have always done and have always liked to do.”

Plante grew up in Orangefield and moved from Bridge City to Port Neches after getting married.

When her son began attending Woodcrest Elementary, she became a homeroom mom and coordinator to be part of something her children were going to grow up in.

“When my son fell, we went through a time in our lives when Port Neches rallied for my family,” she said. “I have seen time and time again how Port Neches rallies for the people here when tragedy strikes, somebody’s house burns or when someone gets sick, they get help.  We are not just a city, we are family. We truly are involved and care about every single person that lives in our community. If somebody reaches out for help, you’re going to get it. You’ll never need help or prayers and not get it when you are involved in Port Neches.”

Plante kick started a successful Adopt-a-Senior program in 2020 and dressed up as the Easter Bunny for children to drive by and wave on Easter Sunday.

She is known for volunteering at Woodcrest Elementary, Port Neches-Groves High School and works a full-time job in Orangefield.

The City of Port Neches followed in the Chamber’s footsteps last year and named May 21, 2020, “Kelly Plante Day.”

She was honored for her efforts creating, organizing and managing the 2020 Port Neches-Groves Adopt-a-Senior program, noting that each senior was adopted three times.

The proclamation states: “Plante is widely recognized and appreciated throughout the City of Port Neches and surrounding communities for selfless and faithful giving of her time, energy and resources.”

Read more RiverFest coverage:

After taking a year off due to COVID-19 restrictions, Port Neches’ annual RiverFest extravaganza is back. No one is more excited to return to the river than the 2021 boat racers.

Port Neches’ annual RiverFest is scheduled for April 28 to May 2, and after taking a one-year hiatus, the Mid County community is a buzz with a host of old and new festival attractions, events and vendors.

After competing prior years in the Miss Port Neches Pageant, 17-year-old Graci Guilbeaux finally won her crown on March 27.