To be perfectly honest, I wasn’t sure that my three-year-old daughter would get it.
The piece of bread was all balled up in my fist when I took her tiny hand and placed the doughy wad in her fingers. “Now throw it in the water,” I told her, “so the trout can eat it!”
We were on the high stone wall above Spring Creek, the park at our back. I held tight around Violet’s waist and motioned with my free hand, “Do it like this, baby!”
A long second passed.
And then she flung the piece of bread with everything she had.
Both of our eyes were fixed upon it as it soared down through the late summer air and plopped down into the stream. SMASH! A massive rainbow trout the size of a small country emerged from the water and gulped down the cheap snack that my daughter had just tossed.
Violet’s eyes went saucer-wide as her smile erupted through her cheeks. She began to wave her hands in the air as if she was cheering for the game winning homer. In a matter of seconds, I knew that she had got it after all.
“More bread, Daddy!” was all she could manage to shriek to me through her excitement. I could feel her little body quivering with the thrill of what had just happened.
It was our first time ever visiting Talleyrand Park in our town of Bellefonte, Pennsylvania. And it was the start of an incredible love affair between a family and this place we had found, this place that calls itself a park but has come to mean so much more to our family.
This summer marks the third year in a row that Coca-Cola is sponsoring the America Is Your Park (AIYP) program. It’s a simple contest really, but it’s also probably one of the coolest grassroots opportunities around.
Here’s the deal:
Coke is offering three huge windfalls to three different parks anywhere in America. That means that your favorite park could stand to win as much as $100,000 in recreation grants! Think about that. Think about all of the incredible improvements that could be made with that kind of money — and all the people who would benefit.
And best of all, the winners will be decided by you and me, not some politician or some suit in an office somewhere. This big money is headed to the parks voted for by we, the people.
I like that part a lot.
So listen. All you have to do is visit the America Is Your Park (AIYP) voting site and follow the easy-to-follow directions. There you’ll find an interactive map that makes it simple to find your favorite park and vote for it. Plus, there’s information about other ways we can all vote, too. Like, if you Check-in to your park on Foursquare, …BOOM! That’s 100 votes for your favorite park right there!
It fast. It’s easy. And it’s the least any of us can do for these magic places we get to escape to in the middle of our busy days.
This year, as you probably have guessed by now, my vote for “America’s Favorite Park” is going to Tallyrand Park in our town of Bellefonte, Pennsylvania.
It’s a fabulous place really, a beautiful park built around an old 19th-century railroad depot which now serves as the town’s tourism center.
It’s a place where people can stand on an old suspension bridge and feed the famous giant trout that have been dining on bread and crackers for decades now.
A place where little kids can carry a piece of bread into the middle of a patch of grass and make fast friends with a whole lot of ducks.
There are a couple of old trains parked on the railroad tracks there too, hulking masses of a by-gone era that my one year old son, Henry, loves to run around and climb on. A few months ago, I found the old bell tucked down in an out-of-the-way spot on one of those trains. Now every time we hit the park, my daughter has to lead me over there by the hand so she can ring that thing and holler at the top of her lungs,”Alllll aboard!”
Then, right on cue, all the other kids playing over on the swings and slides appear tugging their parents by the arm, seeking out the source of all that glorious ringing! So, I guess the secret’s out, but it’s a blast to watch.
So, because I’d love to help give something back to this place that means so much to my family, Tallyrand Park gets my vote in Coca Cola’s America Is Your Park (AIYP) program.
Now then, who’s getting your vote?
“This is sponsored content from Babble and The Coca-Cola Company. All opinions expressed in the post are my own and not those of Coca-Cola. NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. Only legal residents of the 50 U.S. (and D.C.) who are at least 13 years old and reside within the U.S. at the time of participation are eligible to vote for a Park. Participate on behalf of a Park by: July 15, 2012. The 3 most popular Parks will be offered a grant and there will be 1 Wild Card drawing at the end of the Contest to award an additional grant. To participate, for Official Rules, and complete details including grant descriptions, visit www.LivePositively.com/parks. Void where prohibited. Click here to see more of the discussion.”
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