Official Tom, Becky for 2017-18 announced.

The Tom Sawyer made famous by Mark Twain would have likely preferred catching frogs, skimming rocks or exploring a cave to being kissed by a girl. But Eric Hudson admitted that he was hoping that outgoing Becky, Ellie Locke, would peck him on the cheek Tuesday afternoon, designating him Hannibal's latest “official” Tom.

“I was never so excited to be kissed on the cheek before,” admitted Eric, son of Ben Hudson and Denise Hudson. “Usually my mom will kiss me on the cheek and I'm like, 'Mom, get away!' That time it was like, 'Please kiss me on the cheek.' It happened and it felt so good. It was my most favorite kiss ever.”

The newest “official” Becky, Jade Thomas, wasn't hopeful that outgoing Tom, Miles McIntyre, would stop next to her as he waved through the five finalists.

“I thought it was going to be one of the other Beckys,” said Jade, the daughter of David and Rebecca Thomas. “It (being chosen) was very shocking. I didn't actually think I was going to get it. When he (outgoing Tom) was running, I was like, 'Is he running in the wrong direction? Where is he going?'”

While both Jade and Eric are looking forward to participating in a first-pitch ceremony prior to an upcoming St. Louis Cardinals game, they both realize there is much more involved being Tom and Becky.

“I'm super excited and pumped to meet all the new people. I love to say 'hi,'” said Eric. “I'm representing Hannibal and that's another great thing. I'm an ambassador for Hannibal. I'm the face of Hannibal now. It's awesome.”

“I'm also looking forward to meeting new people. It's awesome being an ambassador and doing what I'm asked to do as Becky. Hopefully I will be good at it,” added Jade.

Both Eric and Jade are glad they invested the time and effort necessary to be a successful Tom and Becky Program participant.

“Even if I had gotten to the top five it would have been a blessing,” said Jade. “It's something I can look back on and talk to my family about, 'Remember when this happened?' It was so exciting to get it and get to travel to places and meet new people. I'm just so excited.”

“The process was a blast,” said Eric. “I'm never going too look back and say 'I wish I'd never done this.' I'm so excited that I decided to try out.”

This year's other Toms are: Colton Broughton, son of Chris and Heidi Broughton; Andrew Catalpa, son of Bob and Lori Catalpa; Elijah Dexheimer, son of Emily Dexheimer; and Sam Hirner, son of Joe and Patricia Hirner. The additional four Beckys are: Linnea Brown, daughter of Jeffrey and Brea Brown; Brooklyn Haye, daughter of Ron and Sheri Haye; Kendel Locke, daughter of David and Sara Locke; and Claire Martinson, daughter of Brian and Julie Martinson.

Melissa Cummins, Tom and Becky coordinator, noted the celebration that ensued following the announcement of the next Tom and Becky as an indicator of the quality of people who sought to participate this year.

“They're amazing young adults,” she said. “They were all congratulating the official winners which speaks volumes for what our year is going to be like. They're going to be extremely supportive of each other. They're very excited about this program.”


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