The last station sign was put in place, the trail was spiffed up, and the ribbon was tied and ready to be cut for the unveiling.
Starting in mid-afternoon, teams of volunteers drove out to the site to make sure everything was ready for the big reveal. They brought in huge pots of chili from our favorite local soup shop, carted in bushels of apples from a nearby orchard, and lit a fire for the s’more-building camp. And, just as the rain clouds moved in with ruthless foreboding, they put up the tents—just in case.
When I arrived, I dodged a few mud puddles, skipped over something questionable (I was at a horse ranch after all), and headed straight for the petting zoo. When I got my fill of fuzzy bunnies, I spotted the face-painting tables and got made up right (and then I may have gone back to the bunnies). Oh, and the whole time, we were “serenaded” by ABC (Anything But Classical) Orchestra from East Kentwood High School. This was my kind of fun!
Of course, the evening wasn’t about the food, or the animals, or the fun activities, or the great music; those were all just a wonderful backdrop to a very special occasion: the opening of and the inaugural ride on the Saddle Safari Discovery Trail.
Sponsors of the trail: Bill and Brad Darooge both gave their dedications, followed by Kathy—the Equest Center’s Executive Director. And, for the grand finale, one the Center’s riders took the stage to give an inspiring message to the hundreds of attendees gathered ‘round.
The ribbon was cut and two riders began their journey, with stops at each station to try out the specially-designed activities.
The evening ended with a walking tour of the trail for everyone, a scavenger hunt and pony rides for the kids (that’s what they told me, anyway: kids only—darn!), and then, just a wee bit of rain.
What a privilege it was to be involved in such an amazing and rewarding project! If you want to see a little more, check out our sneak peek video and read the article from our local news station. And yesterday our project made the front page of the Grand Rapids Press! Woo-hoo!