Sunday, April 4, 2010

Hoppy Easter

I wasn't sure what to expect for Easter Sunday.  I assumed that we would be busy, because yesterday was busy and today held another beautiful, sunny day.  I thought that things would wind down early though because it was the end of the weekend.  Today was a little more like the days that people have been warning me about.  It was full of surprises.  I did remember to take a photo of the entrance area before it was full of cars, but there wasn't time for any other photos today.  It was a beautiful, foggy morning.  I wish I could have spent more time with my camera.

The day started out pretty mellow.  We got the ranger station open, and the clean-up commenced.  The Oak trees had decided to drop a hidden reserve of dead leaves onto us overnight in addition to the record levels of pollen that are making most of us miserable.  When the clean-up was done, the leaf blowing began.  People started to file into the park slowly but steadily.  Sometime after noon, the lines began to form and stick around.  We did end up reaching capacity and we had to close.  I had a Law Enforcement Officer working with me today.  I noticed that fewer people stopped to ask questions in the turn-around when he was there.  He looked like he meant business.  I am getting good with my arsenal of quick, informative, firm but friendly answers to the most common questions and complaints that people stop to give.  Even when the LE Officer wasn't there, I was able to keep the line moving faster than yesterday.  There were so many different reactions from people to the whole scenario of the park being full.  Some people were understanding and grateful that we would eventually re-open, some were shocked and angered, some quietly went with the flow, and some were just belligerent.

The day flew by and suddenly, we had more cars leaving than entering and we were through what we thought was the difficult part of the day.  The morning shift headed home and I stayed to help out a little longer.  When it was quiet, I headed out to run a park errand and then checked in one more time with the closing crew before heading home.  I expected that they would coast for the rest of the night and get through without problems.  All the drama started after I left.  I was following it all on the radio and offering assistance, but one of our rangers was able to sort everything out.  He dealt with stolen canoes, late canoes, scary people in canoes, and items stolen from canoes as well as 3 police units from 2 departments.  Who knew that canoes could bring out the worst in people on Easter Sunday?

Thought of the Day #81
The crowds at Wekiwa are much larger than the crowds at Troy.  I haven't seen the counts for Wekiwa yet, but I think it would be safe to say that Wekiwa has had higher visitation in one busy day than Troy has in a year.  What a contrast!  It is nice to be able to serve so many more people, but a little frustrating that we have to turn people away sometimes.  We are not able to give the personal, one-on-one attention that we could provide at Troy.  I think that people are still having meaningful experiences though.  Our staff is good at quick and friendly interactions at the ranger station that leave people with a good feeling, ready to explore and enjoy the park.  It is kind of amazing to me that a total of 5 park employees and 1 law enforcement officer kept the park moving and the majority of the visitors happy on such a busy day.

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