If they open it, will we come?

Thursday afternoon, March 8, I drove out to Little River State Park and met Gary Cole for an interview about the park’s reopening.

If you grew up here, you probably have fond memories of the park.

As I drove along the narrow road leading into the main area of the park, I felt a little of the excitement I felt as a kid. Carload of kinfolks, probably a picnic lunch somewhere in the car, and a long summer day of fun ahead of us at the end of the lane.

As you can read on the front page of this edition, the Forestry Commission is reopening the park. Management of the park has been an issue for many years. But I can tell you if Gary Cole has his way, it will never close again.

A longtime Commission employee, Gary came out of retirement to manage the park’s reopening. Walking around the grounds and talking with Gary, I could see his concern for the property.

He says it’s a shame for such a pretty place to be closed.

I agree.

But let me share this story that I think makes a valid point.

Many years ago, the bowling alley was closing in Atmore. I went to interview the owner and do an article for the paper. I told him it was such a shame the bowling alley was closing.

And he made this point: That’s what everybody says, it’s a shame – but nobody came to bowl.

We may have been saddened to hear of the park’s closing more than a year ago, but did we go there when we could? We may be glad our state park is reopening, but will we go?

We want our amenities, but do we support them?

When we lose something in our community, in our area, we regress – whether it’s a business, an organization, a club, a venue, or a state park.

The admission fee is so low at Little River that most everybody should be able to go. But it’s not the admission fee that will keep the park open. It’s the pavilion and campsite rentals.

For sure, the Forestry Commission will be keeping an eye on the park’s use over the summer at least, I would think. Take your family. Have a picnic. Hold a reunion. Go fish!

The reopening celebration is set for Saturday, March 17. Gates open to the public at 8 a.m. Lunch will be served at noon. Come show your support. We’ll see you there.