It has become a cliche when you talk about "happy campers," but there truly were happy campers in abundance at the recent Wings, Rallies & Friends campout at Honeycomb Campground.
When you're the editor of the local newspaper, you work hard to find stories and meet deadlines. But you get to do some cool stuff too that you would never otherwise get to do.
So it was a couple weekends ago when Cindy Yates asked me to visit Honeycomb Campground to judge the Wings, Rallies & Friends costume contest and talent show. Cindy has vintage campers that are just the cutest things you've ever seen.
She's also one of those people I call a "friend of the Gleam" because she often gives us news tips and even shares photos of events if she gets something we don't have.
She loves camping and is a tireless organizer of the Wings, Rallies & Friends event held every April at Honeycomb. This one drew folks from as near as Hebron just 5 miles away to as far away as Texas and Ohio.
For one glorious weekend in April, these folks from all different walks of life come together like one big, happy extended family.
I was in a grumpy mood when I left the house headed for Honeycomb. I'd been running around seeing to one thing after another all day.
The happy campers turned my frown upside down. They were having a good time and it was infectious. You couldn't help but smile and laugh right along with them.
Cindy and her husband Skip are just great folks and we enjoy visiting with them at least once a month at the EAA breakfast at the airport.
I got tickled right off the bat when I walked into the Honeycomb Campground. There sat Skip in some kind of uniform. Skip is former Air Force and he just has a serious look about him. It turns out he has a sense of humor too and the costume and some of his comments showed it.
He mentioned being a member of "The Village People" at one point in the evening's proceedings, because of his costume.
One couple had on very elaborate costumes as Winfred Sanderson and Billy Butcherson from the beloved Halloween film "Hocus Pocus." Their costumes were handmade and were exquisite.
A woman in a plastic inflatable dinosaur suit soon shuffled up the hill. Other characters included Rosie, the robot maid from The Jetsons, Jessie the Cowgirl from Toy Story, Batgirl, Thing 1 and Thing 2 from Dr. Seuss and others. Cindy had the look of a pirate, but she was running the show and wasn’t in the contest.
These were grown-ups, many of them in the "senior category," showing that the second childhood can be just as fun as the first.
My wife Mary and Honeycomb Campground manager George Krieger were my co-judges. There was collusion, I'm afraid to report.
It happened before Cindy had a chance to give us any instructions.
"How do you think we need to judge these?" George said and we discussed it. We finished deciding who we thought looked the best when Cindy handed us slips of paper for anonymous balloting. Oh, well.
Winifred and Billy took first. Rosie the robot maid took 2nd and Jessie from Toy Story was 3rd. The “People’s Choice” voting of the campers closely followed our own and I breathed a sigh of relief.
The talent show was next.
“I’ve never played or sang in front of anyone,” a gentleman with a guitar said. Then he strummed a beautiful rendition of “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald.”
Next was a recitation. A lady acted like a little girl and recited “I Have A Little Shadow.”
Thing 2 – Vicky Mahan of Hebron – then belted out “I Found Jesus.” She and her husband Mike previously toured as gospel singers and we had a clearcut winner.
Winifred and Billy were up next and stayed in character. She sang “I Put A Spell on You” and Billy backed her up.
It was the last night of the campout and several in the audience spoke up afterwards about what the weekend had meant to them.
One lady told how she’d recently lost her husband and you could tell the weekend of camping been therapeutic for her.
Skip might have summed it up best.
“I’m not a camper,” he said. “But I have to admit, it’s been a lot of fun meeting all of you.”
Plans are already in the works for the next Wings, Rallies and Friends gathering at Honeycomb Campground next April, with campsites on the waterfront blocked off for the group.