Time To Celebrate!

It’s Memorial Day weekend! Now that most of the country is opening up, it will be more like business as usual for this 2021 holiday. Even though the pandemic is still a reality, and social distancing is still encouraged, we are slowly getting back to normal. The Shady Pines Gazette news editor, Zulah Talmadge, put out the word a week ago that she wants the people of Shady Pines Story Town to let her know how they plan to celebrate. Now, she’s having a hard time answering all the calls coming in!

“Yes, Sara, we’re doing a bunch of different stories about the holiday. What are you and Joe and the kids doing this year? You’re going to the picnic in Stonewall Park? You’re excited that it’s back on this year. You won’t have to wear a mask because you’ve been vaccinated? Uh-huh. I see. OK. We’ll see you there around 5:30.”

The Picnic Is Back

Zulah writes a few ideas in her reporter’s notebook. The annual Shady Pines Memorial Day Picnic is a big deal. The gathering this year will be larger than last year but folks will still be encouraged to stay in their own groups as much as possible.

To encourage some distancing, parking will be restricted to fewer cars than normal and areas will be roped off to prevent people gathering in large groups. Volunteers will be on hand to help anyone who’s confused about the new rules. Shady Pines is a small Southern town with a population of around 6,000 people. So, managing “crowds’ is easier here than in some places around the country.

Gathering Story Ideas

Across the newsroom, Scoop the Cub Reporter is talking to a father with a story idea.

“So, Mr. Johnson, let me get this right. Your oldest son is a soldier. He is stationed a long way away from Shady Pines. You and other families are getting together tomorrow to send letters and gift boxes to the troops. And that’s happening at the Community Center? Director Rita Malena is organizing it? That’s great. I think I’ve got it.”

Breaking NewsAfter the gentleman leaves, Scoop walks over to Zulah’s desk.

“Ms. Talmadge, here are my notes about the Community Center Connect With A Soldier activities.”

Zulah looks them over. “Thanks, Scoop. It’s especially important to remember the soldiers who gave their lives for our freedom. We owe them so much.”

Scoop looks right her. “We need to make sure our reporting reminds everyone of that.”

Zulah nods her head. “On a lighter note, I just got a call from a mom who wants us to know that some folks are skipping the picnic at Stonewall Park this year. She says instead, they plan to swim, picnic and take the small sail boats out on the lake.”

Scoop smiles. “Well, that’s right next to the park, so we can cover both areas easily.”

As Memorial Day dawns, people all over town spring into action. Some walk their dogs; kids ride their bicycles and parents make plans for the day. Many neighbors are just staying home and having backyard picnics. There’s one thing they all have in common. They’re all finding ways to enjoy our national holiday.

Zulah and Scoop catch all the action down by the lake before heading to Stonewall Park.

By 5pm Mayor Beauregard Fibbs is ready to kick off the festivities there. He has a microphone so people can hear what he has to say.

Mayor Fibbs Has Something To Say

“Good afternoon everyone. Thank you for being here on this glorious Memorial Day. Before we get started, let’s take a minute to remember the brave soldiers from Shady Pines who gave everything so that we have the lives we do. Please bow your heads in silence.”

Zulah and Scoop stand with all their neighbors, and pause to reflect on those who have been lost in military conflicts.

“Thank you, folks,” says Mayor Fibbs. “Welcome. Look around. It’s great to see so many familiar faces. And we can see your face because masks are optional now for anyone who’s been vaccinated and because this is an outside event.  And, how about a round of applause for all our health care workers and first reponders who have gone above and beyond to serve us? That’s it. Let’s make some noise! All right. Enjoy your meal and when it gets dark, we’ll start the movie. Have a great time!”

Following the mayor’s remarks, everyone digs in to the hamburgers, hot dogs, potato salad, and all the typical picnic foods each family has packed. While the kids play, some of the adults sit in folding chairs, spaced a good distance apart and talk. By the way, the FORKLY website has some Memorial Day recipes for kids: GO HERE

“Come on, Scoop,” says Zulah. “Why don’t you get your camera and rrecord all this activity while I get some comments from folks. We should have enough for a good story.”

Scoop struggles with his camera. “After that, can we eat?”

“Spoken like a true teenager. Of, course we can, Scoop. I brought a cooler full of food just for us!” says Zulah.

Another successful Memorial Day is officially underway. Neighbors of all ages and backgrounds laugh, swap stories, and eat a good meal. More memories are being made during this fun filled gathering to honor an important American holiday.