Looking to spend time outdoors this weekend? Ridley Creek State Park, a special sanctuary that offers visitors a place to clear their minds and embrace nature, is celebrating its 50th anniversary.
On Saturday, October 8, the public is welcome to celebrate the park’s beauty. From 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., enjoy Carmona Mobile Foods and House Cup Coffee food trucks, music, guided tours, historical hikes and a 5k fun run. The untimed fun run begins at 9 a.m. and takes visitors through the multi-use trail of the park. During the three-mile nature walk, visitors will explore birds, different trees and flowers while also learning about the park’s history. The nature exhibit, which opens at noon, presents visitors the unique opportunity to learn about park wildlife and the various species that inhabit the park.
The celebration will be hosted by the Friends of Ridley Creek State Park, a nonprofit organization dedicated to protecting and enhancing Ridley Creek State Park.
“Ridley Creek State Park contains a historical record that has been unchanged for over 300 years,” says Jack Miller, the President of the Friends of Ridley Creek.
“Many of the original buildings remain, and several of them have been the subjects of scholars who have recorded their history. Many of the buildings are listed in the National Registry of Historic Places. The Park lands have never been developed and represent how a community evolved and grew,” Miller notes.
While the park is a historical landmark, it is also one that has a significant history worth exploring. The events at the celebration were selected to inspire visitors to explore what is beyond the paved multi-use trail and learn more about the park. Each trail has its own hidden gems that are waiting to be explored.
“While the hikers on the multi-use trail may not see the farms far off the trail, we wanted them to know what was down that long driveway and the history they were missing out on,” says Miller.
Ridley Creek has had a very special impact on visitors over the past 50 years, and the significance to preserve state parks is growing every day. It is crucial now more than ever for our society to preserve the special sanctuaries that are state parks, and any help from the public has a large impact.
“The recent passage of the American Rescue Plan provides the support needed to maintain the infrastructure in our state parks,” explains Miller. “Public opinion backed up the parks’ requests for funding, and the legislature responded with passage of the bill. Several years of programs to demonstrate the needs of the state parks were effective in making everyone aware of the needs to support the public parks that we have enjoyed for so many years. We need to show the public that their voices have been heard and show them the resulting improvements.”
While Ridley Creek has many loyal supporters, the Friends of Ridley Creek hope that this celebration will draw in an even bigger audience to come and enjoy all that the park has to offer. The 50th anniversary celebration has been planned by volunteers. The Friends of Ridley Creek hope that this will inspire more visitors to get involved as well.
“When people come to the Park, we would like them to share some of the stories and feel a connection to ‘their park,’” says Miller. “We want people to be able to show others the trail they cleared, the bridge they built, the garden they planted and trails they blazed. We want our visitors to come back and get more involved in volunteer projects. We want more people to hear the ‘thank yous’ from hikers who see the volunteers at work and let them know how much their work is appreciated.”
Apart from this celebration, the Friends of Ridley Creek State Park have plans to continue drawing in a larger audience and keep the park alive with hopes to have the park continue to survive, thrive, and inspire future generations to get involved.
Be sure to join the Ridley Creek community at the 50th anniversary of it becoming a state park on October 8 from 9 a.m. – 4 p.m.