At 5:00 p.m., we were at St. Mary's Parish Hall for the Nebraska Wanderfreunde Trailblazers Club Meet and Greet for the four-day Solar Eclipse Walking Weekend. A cadre of volunteers greeted us as we entered. The first order of business was to sign a waiver form, then our weekend walking packet was handed over.
If you wanted to buy raffle tickets, that was next. There was another table staffed by volunteers selling eclipse- and Volksmarch-related wares. Then we passed a table with MANY flyers about upcoming walks put on by other clubs around the country. (Note: People from 21 states are here for the walking weekend, not to mention all the others who are here solely for the eclipse.)
Those planning to walk this evening continued on to the next table to sign up and pay $3.00 for the walk tonight. (It was an added walk after the original event registration paperwork was sent out.)
The Meet and Greet included "light snacks" and beverages. It was a veritable feast. Food choices included turkey and ham sandwiches, wrap slices of different varieties, chips, dip, veggie trays, grapes, cheeses, and an assortment of cookies. If you went away hungry, it was your own fault.
During the Meet and Greet we had an icebreaker. Before the weekend, participants had been asked to let the coordinators know an interesting fact about themselves that other people wouldn't know. When we arrived at the Meet and Greet, we were handed a page of 25 interesting facts, each in a box. Our icebreaker was to go around the room, introduce yourself to other people, and find people who matched the facts on your sheet. When you found a person who, for example, collected dolls and swords, you had them sign that box. (And, yes, that was one of the real boxes.) [Note: Yours truly suggested this icebreaker. I had done it before at another event. My fact was not used--I rode in a Goodyear blimp when I was a child.]
I thought it was fun to go around the room and chat with people, although it was a little tough to interrupt people's conversations. Some of the most interesting facts were these:
- have a horse and goat in our living room (never did find this person)
- have donated 100 gallons of blood (didn't find this one either)
- have traveled on all seven continents
- speak Czech
- have walked 100 miles in one day
- have ridden a bicycle across the country (I actually found three people who have done this: a husband and wife, and another man. The husband and wife did it together, but the other gentleman did it a different year with a different group on a different route.)
- have a black belt in karate
- own eight guitars
- is a current or past Volksmarch Club president (actually there were quite a few people who fit this category but only one signature was needed per box)
- is an advanced level swing dancer
- teaches knitting
You get the idea. At a pre-determined time, the emcee asks how many people got all 25 (no one), and on down the line. I think someone got 23, I got 19, and they continued on until they ran out of prizes. If you won, you got to choose a prize off the table. I chose an eclipse lapel pin (because I collect pins).
At 7:00 p.m., there were going to be guided 5k and 10k walks of historic downtown Grand Island, Nebraska. If you wanted to go in smaller groups or by yourself, you could do it that way too, as they handed out maps if you wished to have one.
Susan, Darren and I took off on our own, but along the way we walked and talked with other people. It's fun learning who's at the event and where they come from.
We walked through neighborhoods and past where Henry Fonda's boyhood home was located. (It was moved to the Stuhr Museum grounds.) There are beautiful old homes, and they represent many architectural styles.
It was still 88 degrees outside but, thanks to the thoughtful trail mappers, we went in neighborhoods and parks with lots of shade. Two of the parks have lakes: Suck's (pronounced Sook, like in book) Park and Pier Park Lake.
|Suck's (pronounced Sook, like book) Park|
|Suck's Park trail sign|
|Pier Park Lake at dusk|
|Statue of Liberty replica|
at Pier Park Lake
|Pier Park Lake|
|Dates of the fair this year|
|Nebraska State Fairgrounds|
|Hall County Courthouse at dusk|
|A pretty mural sponsored by|
Moonshell (Arts Council)
|Eclipse chasers are welcome here|
|Renovated Grand Theater|
|St. Stephen's Episcopal Church|
From Pioneer Park we walked one block back to our car at St. Mary's Cathedral. This is a wonderful walk. The walk instructions, courtesy of the Nebraska Wanderfreunde Trailblazers Club, had the historical facts noted in my blog.
Thank you so much to ALL the volunteers who made this Meet and Greet and walk a success. It took a lot of coordinating to make it all come together. A tip of the proverbial hat, muchas gracias, danke shoen, obrigado, dank je, cảm ơn bạn, merci beaucoup, and dekuji.
I can't wait for the rest of the walks. Over and out.