Winding Down, Gearing Up

Happy Holidays! As 2009 winds down, so does our official celebration of the 75th anniversary of your State Parks. The celebration has been well worth it, we’ve had lots of fun celebrating South Carolina’s State Parks, photo contests, new Junior Rangers, great programs and activities for visitors and even a reunion of CCC and State Park retirees.

It’s been quite a celebration. One of the goals of the celebration was to create an awareness of the value of state parks and most importantly … to celebrate our states treasures with park visitors and make some great memories!

Here are a few of the highlights of 2009:

  • There was the gift from the children of Cheraw, reminiscent of the gift to start the first State Park some 75 years ago.
  • There was the great photo contest that captured so many of your memories and images of your state parks.
  • The celebration of the 150th anniversary of the Hunting Island Lighthouse, the festivals at Kings Mountain and Huntington Beach; the dedication of the Bache Trail Monument at Edisto Beach.
  • Midnight hikes at Table Rock and the Great American Campout at Sesquicentennial, to name just a few.
  • Perhaps most important were the picnics at your favorite parks with family and friends. That hike on one of the trails where you discovered treasures like an Oconee Bell or walked in the footsteps of Revolutionary War heroes. There was the smell of smoke as you gathered around the campfire and were reminded that there’s something special about the glow of a campfire.
There was the night that you remembered that the stars in the sky come out every night as you were overwhelmed with the number of stars you can see when you are away from the city lights. Memories that will last a lifetime, we hope you made some and look forward to the memories to come!

Looking on the Bright Side of ‘09

During our celebration, the nation has experienced some of the most trying economic times of recent memory, a reminder of our Park systems beginning with the Civilian Conservation Corps during the Great Depression. One of the positive things to come out of the recession is that a lot of folks have rediscovered their state parks and their importance.

Both attendance and revenue are up, a reflection of people using their parks reconnecting with their state and family and friends. A fact that we see as an opportunity to impact future generations of visitors with programs and services that make great memories that will last a lifetime. So what’s next?

State Parks Fun Coming Your Way

Well, in just 24 years we’ll have a Centennial Celebration of South Carolina’s State Parks! So there’s work to be done. We want to build on the momentum of the 75th anniversary and continue to provide you with great programs, services and opportunities to make more memories. Here are a few things that we are working on that we hope you will enjoy!

  • A Gift Card is coming next year! For years people have asked for a way to give the gift of a State Park experience, asking for a gift certificate for Christmas, a birthday or a way to introduce State Parks to a neighbor or friend. Well it’s almost here; look for it early next year. Then buy one and introduce your favorite state park to someone special.
  • Building on the message of “Come out and Play”! We have been promoting the idea of “come out and play” during our celebration, one of the questions we frequently have heard from new visitors was …I’m here, now what do I do? We want to answer that question! So watch for new programs and activities at your state parks, and remember to “ask a ranger”. We can’t wait for your next visit.
What a celebration, thank you so much for being a part of it. Even after the celebration there has never been a better time to…Come out and play!

See you in the parks!

Phil