Beating the heat, saving butterflies, honoring veterans

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I recently made it out to City Splash, the pool behind the Yukon Community Center, for candid photos of swimmers and waders enjoying some wet fun amid scorching temperatures.

Quincy Rinkle, the City of Yukon’s longtime superintendent of recreation, invited me out to capture images of the only City of Yukon pool open this summer. I hope you read my recent stories in your Yukon Progress about City Splash’s 2020 debut and the reopening of the Dale Robertson Center – site of many great programs for “older” active adults.

Although Kimbell Bay pool at Kimbell Park is not open this summer due to a lifeguard shortage, many kiddos and their parents found a great alternate site to cool off – the popular splash pad (also referred to as a “spray ground”) water feature at Sunrise Park. Note: No lifeguard is required.

A recent storm damaged the mechanics of the splash pad unfortunately. Hopefully, it will be on-line again soon once repairs are made.

The City of Yukon earlier this year was awarded a $400,000 federal grant to fund a new splash pad and playground upgrades at Freedom Trail Park.

It remains to be seen what will become of Freedom Trail’s accessible playground equipment, much of which was first installed 25 years ago during community “build days” that I was proud to be part of.

I hope this historic playground remains intact, at least partially, when improvements are made to the park.

It’s hard to believe but it’s been a quarter century since Yukon’s accessible playground was planned and built by a great group of dedicated volunteers – Diana Hale, Melody Thomason, Debbie Cain, Bob Schwaninger, Charles Brandley (past District 3 Canadian County commissioner), Carole Garner, among others. I was proud to have played a small part in seeing the Freedom Trail Playground dream become reality.

Speaking of City of Yukon parks, I enjoyed interviewing Peggy Turner this week about a new Monarch butterfly garden she’s created at Kimbell Park. Peggy, a Master Gardener, is a former Yukon Park Board member who came up with the idea for this ambitious project. She spent many hours creating the country’s 28,154th “Monarch Waystation,” now certified as a U.S. wildlife habitat.

Peggy didn’t have to travel far to plant this impressive garden since she lives closely. You’ll read more about Yukon’s Monarch butterfly garden in a story I’m working on for next week’s Yukon Progress editions.

A ribbon cutting ceremony marked an official dedication of the Yukon Veterans Museum’s new 16-foot-long mobile unit. The enclosed trailer, which has an accessible ramp, houses U.S. military artifacts and historic memorabilia. The mobile museum will soon “hit the road” visiting schools, medical facilities, veterans’ and senior centers, and other venues.

An open house inside the Main Street museum was attended by museum board members like Jerry Icenower, Jerry Stafford, Jenny Crane, Tom Thomas, Rick Cacini, and Jack Stewart (current District 3 Canadian County commissioner).

DID YOU KNOW?: When the Yukon Veterans Memorial was dedicated in 1995, there are 525 U.S. military veterans buried in the Yukon Cemetery. Today, the memorial’s large monuments are inscribed with more than 1,360 names.

I want to thank John and Carol Knuppel of the Yukon Historical Society for all they’ve done over the past three decades for the memorial and Yukon’s museum. They are special people and I enjoyed a recent phone visit with them from their new home just south of here.

Another annual event has fallen victim to the COVID-19 pandemic. The City of Yukon has decided to cancel the “Rock the Route” music festival that has been a popular end-of-summer event on Main Street.

“Rock the Route” has provided great entertainment whether you are a die-hard red dirt or country music fan – or you just enjoy a fun night out with friends and family.

Yukon – aptly called the “Festival Capital of Oklahoma” – had become known for this Route 66 music celebration.

But a certain deadly virus has caused the cancellation of “Rock the Route” and several other Yukon traditions – including Easter on the Prairie, the Chisholm Trail Festival and Oklahoma Czech Festival.

The start of weekly “Concerts in the Park” at Chisholm Trail Park have been moved to 7:30 p.m. Thursdays to beat the summer heat.

There are no Yukon Parks & Recreation concessions this year, but there are food trucks!