HOLLIDAYSBURG - Visitors coming to Canoe Creek State Park to soak up the sun Saturday afternoon were in for a pleasant, slide-guitar-infused surprise.
Local band Real Country set up for a set on the patio near the park's snack bar, providing a musical backdrop for those kayaking or dunking their toes in the lake.
When lead singer Bill Ross Jr. said the band was ready to take a break, he promised to return for a few more songs.
Mirror photo by Paige Minemyer
Local band Real Country performs on the patio near the snack bar at Canoe Creek State Park on Saturday.
"You'd better," the crowd of about 20 echoed, not missing a beat.
Memorial Day weekend is considered by many to be the beginning of summer, and at state parks across the region, the notion is no different. Area parks are kicking off a number of summer events to draw visitors.
On May 14, the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources unveiled its newly expanded Get Outdoors PA initiative, a statewide plan to get residents to explore nature at state parks. Throughout the next month "GO" events will be scheduled at parks across Pennsylvania.
DCNR Secretary Ellen Ferretti said in a statement that thousands of people have utilized Get Outdoors activities over the past 10 years, as having a little guidance makes people feel more comfortable in the great outdoors.
"Get Outdoors PA programs are successful because they allow people to have fun outdoor experiences in a comfortable, safe setting, guided by a professional who takes the worry out of the outdoors," Ferretti said.
At Canoe Creek, GO-sponsored activities include kayaking tours and lessons, hikes, fishing and beach-front yoga classes through June.
Blue Knob State Park, in Bedford County, won't be hosting its GO events until July and August, but its offerings include backpacking lessons and nature photography.
Blue Knob is also offering several classes beginning next weekend to help introduce people to some of the local wildlife. Classes will focus on regional fish, bats and owls, according
to a release.
The class about bats will be especially informative, according to the release, as people tend to have preconceived notions about them.
"Bars are very beneficial to humans," according to the release, "but sometimes still get a bad reputation."
Saturday was also the beginning of DCNR's Pennsylvania Hiking Week. The event, which ends June 1, seeks to promote the various hiking trails across the state through organized hikes. It is co-sponsored by the Keystone Trails Association, according to the release.
In Blair County, Canoe Creek will host Mary Ann's Creek Walk, beginning at 9:30 a.m. today, as part of Hiking Week. Other events are available online at www.explorepatrails.com.
Mirror Staff Writer Paige Minemyer is at 946-7535