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Footprints in the Sand

Lifestyle & Opinion

By Chianna Di Domenico

The sound of the waves breaking gently on the shore split the silence of the early morning. The pastel hues painted across the morning sky begin to fade into the soft shade of baby blue, while just over the horizon, sun rays emerged from the border separating the ocean from the sky.

Fred Howard Park has attracted many tourists as well as locals to its picturesque sceneries. It was dedicated to Fred M. Howard in 1966, who was elected to Mayor’s office in 1945. The park consists of 155 acres that people can windsurf, picnic, swim, kayak, play ball and enjoy themselves. According to statistics, as many as 2 million people leave their footprints in the sand at this not so well-known location each year (“Fred Howard Park”). As the years pass, with weekends full of outdoor fun, it is a place that is often easy to forget, and it has been around for many years. However, it is also a place where people can create memories to take with them wherever they go.

At the break of dawn on a Saturday on the 5th of October, people from the Tarpon area began to arrive at Fred Howard Park to do just that. It was going to be a day of grilling juicy cheeseburgers, playing on swing sets, or sitting on the causeway to soak up the tropical sunrays at the local beach. People had started to set up their beach chairs and cooler boxes filled with an assortment of food and beverages to sustain them for their day, while a few of the early birds were still taking a moment to embrace the silence. Amidst the peaceful quiet, a tangerine orange sun began peaking over the horizon in the distance.

Just like that very Saturday, most of the weekends at the beach often start off with the arrival of the sentimental early birds, or as a Florida resident stated, “the day thinkers,” in his red fisherman’s hat, while wading in the waters close to the shore. Those day thinkers simply sit in the silence flipping through the pages of an old beloved book, or with their fancy fishing poles while contemplating all their recent happenings. As the morning slowly morphed into the afternoon, a breeze began to rustle the green palm leaves and the yellow sunflowers by the rocks on the hill. At this time, the youngsters appeared and started to flock to the water in their swimsuits with their hammocks and radios. The music was carried across the beach creating a concert of Bob Marley reggae, Taylor Swift pop, or good old classics, like Frank Sinatra, for the older souls. By 12:00 p.m., the beach was filled with children running barefoot as they laughed and screamed while chasing snow white seagulls by the shore with their friends. They built miniature kingdoms with plastic red and purple shovels while their parents watched them from under their rainbow umbrellas. They watched as the condensation from their cold beverages dripped down their tanned hands and onto the white sand. In the distance, a little girl in a striped white and red swimsuit crouched in the shallow end of the water when she suddenly stood up and shouted, “Look mom! Look what I found!” Running excitedly, she showed off her new prized possession which was in the form of a peach colored snail shell.

As the routine of running, laughing, singing and swimming persisted throughout the day and into the late evening, the beach was now packed with people of all ages from all over the world. A family of five who was visiting from Saudi Arabia spoke to a couple who were visiting from Ohio, and they commented on the beauty of the area. They spoke for several minutes about their travels and other places to visit in the area. Afterward, they parted ways and went back to their beach towels.

Around 7:00 p.m., the clouds rolled by, and the sun moved across the sky. The welkin transformed into canvas that was being painted with colors once again, and the crowds slowly dissipated. Children running by the water faded into silhouetted figures while wispy pink and red clouds hovered above them. Couples seated on the rocks held hands and whirled the water with their toes, when an older gentlemen, who goes by the name of Marc, claimed he, “always looks out to the horizon right before the sun sets, because they say there is a flash of green light. I haven’t seen it yet, but maybe one day…” The sun, now crimson, began to descend as Marc stared out to the edge of the world. Students laughed in their hammocks between the palms, and older couples looked at each other endearingly in the eyes. In those final few seconds of sunset, the sun at last dipped below the horizon. The day was gone as quickly as that flash of mysterious, green light. The sky then faded into a deep blue, and the stars began to shimmer as the souls that wandered the beach started to set off for home. Although they departed from the tranquil beauty that lay before them, with the sand between their toes and salty sea mist in their hair, they took with them another day filled with memories, leaving nothing behind except their footprints in the sand.

“Fred Howard Park.” Pinellas County Florida, n.d.   www.pinellascounty.org/park/06_Howard.htm.

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