Trail Through Time Community Ride Recap
Forty-five cyclists and walkers participated in the April 26, 2014 “Trail Through Time Bicycle and Walking Tour of Father Dickson Cemetery.” The walk and ride began at the U.S. Grant National Historic Site on Grant’s Trail. Twenty-five cyclists headed north on the trail to the Oak Bend Branch of St. Louis County Library, where participants could view a display about Father Dickson’s Cemetery and also engage in an activity centered on learning more about your family history.
Twenty walkers, lead by GirlTrek National Field Director Faye Paige Edwards, walked the two-mile stretch from the U.S. Grant Site to Father Dickson’s Cemetery. The cyclists and walkers met at the cemetery at 11:00 a.m. for a rousing performance by the Community Gospel Choir. Participants sang along and clapped with the choir and were greeted personally by the singers who circulated through the crowd at the end of the performance, shaking hands.
Following the gospel performance, the focus shifted to Father Dickson’s Cemetery, a historic black cemetery that has been painstakingly restored by a group of dedicated volunteers. Ernest Jordan, President of the Friends of Father Dickson’s, was on hand to answer questions, and a number of volunteers lead walking tours through the cemetery. Participants were also invited to walk through the adjacent Sappington House Museum free of charge, and The Barn Restaurant offered a 10% discount for event participants. Approximately half of the participants enjoyed lunch and desserts at the restaurant.
Feedback from the event was overwhelmingly positive. Some of the cyclists were new to Grant’s Trail and commented on how pleasant their riding experience was. Many of the event participants were happy to learn more about local history and to be exposed to sites that were new to them. As one cyclist remarked, “I love these community rides – you don’t just ride, you visit cool places that you didn’t even know existed.” GirlTrek’s leader sent the following e-mail after the walk: “My Trekkers loved the event.” Matt LaBerta (of LaBerta and Son’s Cycles) provided sag support for the cyclists and summed up the enthusiasm for the event in his e-mail “the gospel group…gave me goose bumps. We were having such a good time that we didn’t even make it back to open the shop.”
The ride was funded, in part, by the Great Rivers Greenway District.