Staycations: How Midlands residents are celebrating the Labor Day holiday

ccope@thestate.comSeptember 1, 2013 

South Carolina residents from around the state came to the Columbia area to celebrate the long weekend.

From camping at the park to tubing on the river, some took it easy on Saturday in the Midlands.

Sesquicentennial State Park

Mandy and David Kruger of Gaston met on a camping trip at Hunting Island about 35 years ago.

Since that first trip, they built a family and have been camping hundreds of times.

“As far as state parks go, we haven’t been to one we don’t like yet,” David Kruger said.

Their daughter and grandchildren were with them Saturday as they sat outside eating cookies and planning to fry fish and shrimp later in the afternoon.

“This is junk week,” said Mandy Kruger.

Across the park, the Powers family had a picnic and ate “good ol’ peanut butter and jelly” after playing kickball, Tracy Powers said.

McKenzie Powers, 10, fed bread to the geese, but when they began to get closer to her, she quickly ran back to safety at the picnic table with her family.

“I want her to act like geese and boys are the same thing,” said her dad, Shawn Powers. “Run when they come.”

They planned to spend the rest of the long weekend going to church on Sunday and to the zoo on Monday.

The Sons of Allen, a men’s fellowship organization of the African Methodist Episcopal Church, were holding a stay-in-school rally in the park. Leaders in the organization set up school supplies on a picnic table for children to take.

“We are preparing our young children, giving them the supplies that they need to be successful in school,” said the Rev. Ronald McFadden of Moores AME Church in Edgefield.

Franklin Bookert, of north Columbia, was the grill master for the event and put onions on his burgers that he said people could smell across the park.

He loves grilling and seeing people enjoying his food. “When they tell me how good it is, it makes me feel good,” Bookert said.

The River

Seven days a week, Palmetto Outdoor Center sets up near the West Columbia Riverwalk Amphitheater to rent tubes for groups to float down the river.

The owner of Palmetto Outdoor, Michael Mayo, expected the entire weekend to be busy.

Meike McDonald, a teacher, and four friends drove 1½ hours from Florence to float down the river.

As she ended her two-hour trip, she said it was really fun. Even though they got stuck on some rocks, they just laughed.

“It’s local, it’s fun and we’re supporting our state’s natural resources,” she said.

Lake Murray

Rob and Michelle Smith of Lexington drove their boat across the lake to eat pizza for lunch at the new Liberty Tap Room on Lake Murray.

The two go out on the lake almost every weekend, and the restaurant is convenient because there aren’t very many places to eat by the water, Michelle Smith said.

“Labor Day is kind of like the last hoorah for the summer,” said Greg Harris, an operating partner for the restaurant.

Reach Cope at 803-771-8657 or on Twitter @cassielcope.

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