The State Park Service Ceremonial Corps began Nov. 5, 2002. The premise of forming this team was the opportunity to honor
and give back to the park service and the SC Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism, as well as to the people who had dedicated their lives to SC State Parks.
The corps is comprised of four team leaders and 21 rangers throughout the park service. These members volunteer their time and participate on the team above and beyond their normal park duties. The team is trained in marching and formations, presenting the colors, flag folding and funeral detail. The members wear their regular dress uniforms complete with a dress coat and white gloves when participating in the corps detail.
Since its inception, the corps has carried out special functions such as posting the colors at the Park Manager’s Conference each year, serving at funerals of past park service employees, posting colors at the annual Governor’s Conference and serving at park opening events.
The corps has also presented the colors at a Carolina Panthers game in Charlotte, NC. Being chosen for this detail was a definite honor as it helped promote the South Carolina State Parks and raise the image of the park ranger.
“I was so very proud of them,” said Ray Stevens, Corps Director. “The State Park Service received some high profile, positive
exposure with the team performing in front of a sold out crowd, and there was an article on the team in the game day program.”
The team of rangers that participated in this event included:
Brian Robson, manager of Musgrove Mill State Historic Site
Nathan Maiwald, manager of Santee State Park
Kevin Blanton, manager of Keowee-Toxaway State Park
John Moon, manager of Croft State Park
Robert Dinkins, manager of Lake Hartwell State Park
Kenny Heater, assistant manager of Hunting Island State Park
Traci Bash, senior ranger at the Mountain Bridge Wilderness
“One of the best things for me actually happened on the way home,” Stevens said. “I was traveling down I-77 and noticed in my rearview mirror the people in the vehicle riding just behind me on my left. They were pointing at the rear of my vehicle where the words 'park ranger' are posted. As they caught up with me on the interstate they were smiling and waving. I immediately noticed they had on Carolina Panther clothing, and had obviously been to the game.
Then the man in the back seat mimicked us carrying a flag. I smiled and gave him the thumbs up. At that point, everyone in the vehicle smiled even bigger, clapped and waved as they drove off. I noticed they had SC tags on their car. That showed me they were clearly pleased with our performance and that they were proud of their state parks! To me, that made it all worth it.”