Sesquicentennial State Park in 2020
The year 2020 at Sesqui has been…busy. We started off the year with our annual 1 st Day Hike like normal. There were a couple hundred people attending our three 1 st Day Hike excursions through the park. That was about the last normal thing we did this year.
The first couple months of the year, park employees are normally busy completing annual training and preparing for the spring crowds. February is a month of hammering down old nails, tightening bolts on benches, and freshening up tired lawn mowers after their hard-earned winter rest. There’s always a push to add a little something special before warmer weather arrives. This year, we were able to squeeze in some renovations to the lower loop campground restroom before the spring rush of campers.
Then Covid 19 arrived. The world changed. People started getting sick. Everything around us closed down to the public. With schools & businesses closed, huge crowds of people started coming to Sesqui.
No one could find basic cleaning supplies…including Sesqui! We had to do something no current park employee can say they have ever seen. We closed all SC State Parks for the month of April. We really didn’t have a choice. Concerts in the park were cancelled. Programs were cancelled. We even cancelled our annual Palmetto Campout! We were closed to the public, but we never stopped working.
April was spent building plexi-glass dividers, scrambling across the state for cleaning supplies, and reworking cleaning schedules & making plans to keep our visitors, as well as our employees, safe when we reopen. We took advantage of the closure and completed other projects that could not have been done unless we were closed.
Concrete transitions from the boardwalks to the eroded trail were poured in several
locations. Overdue repairs to Ranger Residences were finally accomplished. We installed new features & furniture on the Splash Pad. We learned how to record & post online nature programs. New retail computer programs were installed & the store was reorganized.
When we did reopen, it was busy. New crowd control measures had to be strictly enforced. Volume limitations on facilities were set in place that had never happened before. Several specific attractions of the park did not open until late in the fall season due to safety concerns. Even with the restrictions, we are still seeing more park visitation than ever before.
We are finishing out 2020 with more projects. A major campground renovation starts December 1 st , and the Splash Pad play deck will be resurfaced with a heavy duty, ant-slip surface.
Probably my favorite projects this year were from two big donations to the Friends of Sesqui. We installed a special park bench donated by our friends, the Mimosa Garden Club, celebrating 80 years of service in the community. The Mimosa Garden Club has helped over the years with several donations for nature programs and tree plantings. This bench was placed overlooking the CCC spillway. Our new friends at REI Columbia literally paved the way to the Mimosa Garden Club bench by donating funds for a brand new sidewalk leading to the spillway overlook.
REI has a long history of helping out outdoor recreational areas in other areas of the country, and we look forward to more partnerships with them in the future. Donations from great groups like these are the best way to achieve significant updates to our park.
Friends of Sesqui helps out the park by coordinating the donors & donations to specific
projects, and working with the park to find the right help to get the job done.
Sesquicentennial State Park is looking forward to staying busy, seeing more projects, and making more friends, in 2021!
Do you want to join in and support the work that Friends of Sesqui does? You can make a direct donation to their nonprofit here. All donations received by Friends of Sesqui stay right here at Sesquicentennial State Park. You can join them in making a difference!
-John Wells, Sesquicentennial State Park Manager