BARDSTOWN, Ky. (WHAS11) -- For over 16 months, we saw Tommy Ballard lead the search for his missing daughter Crystal Rogers. Ballard died before finding his daughter. He was shot and killed before going hunting nearly two weeks ago, his death is still under investigation by Kentucky State Police.
Before Tommy Ballard was killed, he had signed up to have a float in Bardstown's annual Christmas parade with the mission of keeping his daughter Crystal's name alive. Now that Tommy is gone, the community stepped up to make sure that dream did not die with Tommy.
"That's what he lived for was to continue that walk to keep her name alive that is what he did day after day all day long," said
Almost two dozen people spent their weekend working on this float.
"It was 100% commitment I mean everybody wanted to be involved," said family friend Mary Taylor.
It has Christmas trees and lights, but this is not your average Christmas float.
"Lights for Crystal, prayers for crystal sign on there then angel wings that will wrap around the house, so kind of like Tommy is sheltering," said Taylor, "They weren't in a position to be able to do that this year, so we wanted to make sure it happened."
This float will be shown in the Bardstown Christmas Parade Thursday night, and marching right behind it will be the "Ballard Family Parade Crew" and the search dogs who helped Tommy.
Its a gesture not lost on Tommy's family who received a sneak peak of the presentation Wednesday night
"There wasn't a dry eye, any of us nor the family it was very very hard, but we knew it had to be done," said Taylor.
The float is a tribute to both the loving father and the missing daughter he dedicated the last 16 months to finding, keeping Crystal's name and Tommy's mission alive.
"Just to see the family, and Tommy was a proud person, kind of quiet in a lot of ways, but you know I'm sure tonight he's really proud of what is going on here," said Kenny Harrell, who helped build the float.