ROYSE CITY –– It won't be easy, but Esther McCormick will carry on a family tradition on Friday.
"Going to the fair Friday is going to be hard, but it's something that I have to do,” she said.
It's something her family looked forward to every year, especially her 6-year-old son Ethan. He loved the State Fair of Texas; the food, the fun, the pee-wee stampede.
"He would go home and just practice, cheer for me mom, cheer for me" said McCormick.
The Royse City boy, like many others, loved something else too: Big Tex, that larger than life icon that waved the McCormicks into the park many autumns.
"He always wore his cowboy hat and his boots, and I think that was why he really enjoyed Big Tex because he was a big man, with a big hat and big boots and he loved that,” she said.
This year, Ethan won't be here to see the new Big Tex, who will make his debut Friday after being swallowed by fire last year.
"It's fixing to be a year since we lost Ethan and it’s hard,” McCormick said.
Ethan was killed last year in an auto accident. The adored Boy Scout and soccer player was known for his signature sign, a thumbs up.
"I keep this photo on my badge, close to my heart" McCormick said, showing the picture.
The little boy touched many lives in his six years, including some State Fair organizers.
Esther wrote a letter sharing with them how much Ethan enjoyed the fair.
"We're moms and dads and we were all touched by it,” said State Fair of Texas spokeswoman Sue Gooding.
Fair officials were so moved that they made a donation to the Big Tex Restoration Fund in Ethan's honor. His name displayed with other donors for every fair visitor to see.
"My husband is like, ‘wow that is cool, it's been almost a year and our son is still touching a lot of people,’" said Esther.
It’s a gesture that means the world to Esther and her family and a gesture that Ethan and Big Tex would surely approve of too, his family said.
"He's got his thumbs up and he's wearing his hat and his boots knowing he is going to be there with Big Tex this year too,” McCormick said.