It might be high time for a long weekend

Published 8:08 am Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Looking for a family-friendly and fun-filled way to celebrate the Memorial Day holiday?

One of the events on tap at Roan Mountain State park will take visitors along the Peg Leg Mine Trail in search of "Gems of the Forest." The entrance to the old Peg Leg mine is shown here.

One of the events on tap at Roan Mountain State park will take visitors along the Peg Leg Mine Trail in search of “Gems of the Forest.” The entrance to the old Peg Leg mine is shown here.

Look up.
Roan Mountain State Park may have just what you’re looking for.
“The summer season officially kicks off here at Roan Mountain State Park this weekend with a special Memorial Day weekend edition of the park’s weekly programming schedule,” said Park Ranger Meg Guy.
Activities such as hikes, musical performances, wildlife activities and safety demonstrations begin Thursday and continue through Saturday. A complete schedule of events appears on Page 3 of today’s Star.
Many of the special events for the weekend will be presented by Amanda Smithson and Joe Nowotarski, who are working at Roan Mountain State Park this summer as seasonal interpreters and recreators.
“The SIR program is considered the unofficial ‘entry-level’ position for individuals who would like to become full-time park rangers for Tennessee State Parks,” Guy said. “Their main duties for the three months they will spend in the park is to provide quality interpretive and recreational programs for park visitors. They will also spend some time job shadowing and assisting Park Rangers, organizing volunteer work events in the park, and working with the Rangers on ongoing resource management projects.”
One of the first things that Guy recommends for people wanting to attend events at the park is to dress accordingly.
“Remember that Roan Mountain State Park is located at an elevation of 2,700 feet to 3,800 feet. The temperatures are usually cooler than those of Elizabethton and the cities in the valley below. Wear layers you can add/subtract to better regulate your comfort in the varying temperatures,” Guy said. “Also, the weather can change rapidly here in the mountains, so carrying a light rain jacket is never a bad idea.”
What’s on your feet is also important, Guy said. If you plan to go on a hike, she asks that you “please don’t wear flip-flops or dress shoes. Sturdy, closed-toe hiking boots or sneakers are what you need.” She also recommends wearing clothing that you do not mind getting wet or dirty.
For those attending who plan on taking one of the longer hikes — such as the “Hike The Balds” event — Guy reminds those participants to bring along water and snacks.
“Longer hikes may not be suitable for young children,” she said, adding that there are many events over the weekend that will be kid-friendly. “Also, please assess your own fitness level and choose hikes accordingly.”
For events like the night hike and campfire, Guy recommends attendees be sure to bring a flashlight. “Also, bicycle riding is prohibited in the park after 8:30 p.m., so you don’t want to ride your bike to a program that is going to last after dark,” she said.
Guy said bleacher-style seating is available at the outdoor amphitheater for the live music performances, but that attendees are welcome to bring camp chairs or blankets if they would prefer.
All of the programs for this special weekend at the park are free and open to the public without prior registration.
“In order to continue to provide quality interpretive and recreational programs and special events at the park, donations are greatly appreciated. Contributions may be made at any of the park offices,” Guy said. “The weekend music performances at the Park Amphitheater are also free of charge, but the musicians are not paid and rely on tips from the audience. The SIRs will ‘pass the hat’ for the musicians at each Friday or Saturday night show.”

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