Editor's note: This is the first in an occassional series of guest columns by Atmore citizens.
Let me tell you some of the things happening – activities I enjoy being part of and some that I think other folks might enjoy being involved in.. I've talked and written before about some of the things you'll read here, but I think they're worth talking about again.
Have you been out to the park to a t-ball game? We're talking four-year-olds who are already developing a team spirit and a love of the game. It's fun just standing around, talking to the parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles. You'd think we were watching the big leaguers.
Then you move over to the Little League park, where the talent is a little greater. The enthusiasm, however, is the same – abundant. The next stop is Babe Ruth where the talent really starts emerging. In Atmore, you can watch a youngster grow up at the park.
The same is true for the young ladies. The cheers are no less enthusiastic at Ponytail Park than at the other ball fields.
Whatever the league, we have folks who take pride in the fact that they have someone out there playing, and they turn out to support them.
The parks are a nice place to go in the evening. It does a person good to see the wholesome activities going on there.
Check the local YMCA. It's another good place with a lot of activity – in the summer and year-round. Whether it's soccer or swimming or basketball or exercise or line dancing or weight training, there's something for everyone.
The City of Atmore is very fortunate to have two Olympic-size swimming pools.
Some cities are closing their pools due to the liability. We have folks come from all over for our summer swimming program. If you don't believe they have fun just ride by sometime and listen to the squeals and giggles.
You know, we have some events in Atmore that we probably take for granted, but people come from miles around to enjoy. Let's talk about Williams Station Day and Mayfest – both are good examples of people working together to benefit the city and taking pride in what our city is and can be.
Williams Station Day has become a real focal point for our city. Over the years, high school reunions and family reunions have come to be planned around Williams Station Day. It gives folks a chance to see people they've not seen in years, not just at the reunion but walking down the street at Williams Station Day.
Our Chamber of Commerce does a tremendous job in putting this festival on each year. It takes many hours of hard work and dozens of volunteers.
Mayfest brings hundreds of people to the park every year.
The Mayfest Beautiful Baby Contest will stir your heart. You talk about a job! I wouldn't want to be a judge in that contest. I've yet to see a contestant who wasn't beautiful at the Atmore Mayfest.
Again, our Chamber of Commerce does a great job in coordinating this for the community. They provide all types of activities to try to reach all ages and all interests.
Unity in the Community Day in Houston Avery Park is put on by a dedicated, civic group – Concerned Citizens. They believe in keeping our children involved in wholesome activities, and they lead by example. That's the best way.
Like to party? The Ladies of Essence Mardi Gras Parade was made for you. Where else can you jump on the back of a pick-up truck, throw beads and moon pies and wave at people? It's also a whole lot of fun when you're standing along the parade route – catching all the goodies coming off the floats and rides. The Mardi Gras Ball gives us a chance to dress up in our "good clothes."
What else goes on around town?
Have you been to the September 11th Memorial Service? It's a very moving experience. If you haven't heard Willie Hawthorne sing our "National Anthem," you've really missed something. We always have Lana Langford in this program, as we do in several others during the year. Her rendition of "Proud to Be An American" makes us all proud. Willie and Lana are two wonderful examples of the talented people we have in Atmore. They're also good examples of people ready and willing to serve their community when asked.
Let me tell you about a group that got together and started the Atmore Area Christian Care Ministry. Some very caring people organized AACCM to help people get back on their feet in hard times. Volunteers devote their time and effort, and the community generously donates funds and food to help their fellow man. These folks work quietly behind the scenes. I'm proud to be part of it.
For our senior citizens, the SAIL Center is a favorite gathering place. Five days a week, 75 to 80 seniors meet to play games and eat lunch.
The center is under the direction of Melanie Godwin. For some folks, this is the only outing they have during the day. When you go there, you'll be genuinely welcome. They're always glad to see a visitor.
What about some of the things that have been established for our young people?
Have you been a part of the Rotary Club All-Stars. These are the outstanding students in our area high schools. These students are rewarded for their outstanding studies, and we have a number of them honored every year.
Three young men were a part of Eagle Scout ceremonies recently.
David Keel and Robert Hardy were recently inducted into the rank of Eagle Scout. Just prior to that, Matt Jensen was awarded this rank. As I understand it, Matt was accepted into West Point.
Have you had the opportunity to go to one of the plays presented by the talented people in our area? When I saw "The Sound of Music" here, I thought to myself, "They don't do it any better on Broadway in New York. Just behind that came "Annie," another great production. If those activities haven't touched you, you really missed out.
Another fine production is the annual combined musical and handbell service presented by First Baptist Church, Brooks Memorial Baptist Church, First Presbyterian Church and First United Methodist Church.
Last year, I had the pleasure to attend the Christmas program at Atmore First Assembly of God Church. First Assembly also has a Fourth of July service, and it's very moving and patriotic.
All of this is proof that we have a lot of talented people.
For those of you who have an interest in history, we have an active historical society.
If you like to read, our library will compare with any other in any town our size.
For almost a year, a Tuesday night prayer group has met in Atmore. They meet at different locations around town every week. They're praying for the needs of our city, our state and our nation and they cordially invite anyone to join them.
We recently had a group of men from upstate New York in town to retrieve an airplane that was mounted in front of city hall. Some of these men had never to Alabama. One or two had been here years ago. After spending about a week here, they said they were overwhelmed with Southern hospitality and that they'd never forget their time here.
There's always more to be done and we will always have challenges to meet.
It's about teamwork. It's about community pride. It's about working together.
Howard Shell is the mayor of Atmore.