We set a new record for Billy Goat Day with at least 80 attendees over the course of the five hours that we lingered around the picnic pavilion at Lake Mills Park. Unlike last year, we had far more FT alumni on hand and fewer local FTA volunteers. Bob Finley and Bob Eggleston stepped up to the plate to man the grilling stations. Chris Bell and his sons pitched in. Instead of an embarrassment of food, the potluck nearly perfectly covered the number of people on hand (and their appetites), although we think more burgers and dogs are in order for next year.
Trail angels came from near and far. Joan Jarvis wrangled a crowd of northbound thru-hikers to make sure they’d be in attendance. Kelly Fairbanks and Sean Spence brought another two SOBO thru-hikers and probably set the record for mileage driven, as they came in from Crestview. Chris Bell plucked one hiker from along Florida’s Turnpike! And Michael Brandy timed his section hike to end up walking into the event.
Thanks to these volunteers and more, we had a dozen Class of 2018 thru-hikers in attendance, including Andrew “Good Man Gramps” Bement, Baker Bokorney, Taran Drake “Barley” Branscum, Eric Emery, Ross Joseph, Jeremy Lucken, Candace “Woodchuck” Mickle, Cayte Ohr, Susanne “Snapper” Plank, Albert “Ninja Tortoise” Scott, James “Mr. Breeze” Shutika, and David “Day-Late” Thibault.
It was also a special treat to have Florida Trail founder Jim Kern join us for the first time. He had the opportunity to meet and talk to many of the hikers – current year and past years – as well as the growing network of trail angels popping up along the trail.
Of course, Billy Goat was there as well, allowing us all to celebrate his 79th birthday with him. He has his sights set on topping 50,000 miles on foot before he hits the big 8-0, and preferably before the ALDHA Gathering this fall.
OUR THANKS to those in attendance who contributed to help cover the costs of hosting this event, and for the many who also pitched in by bringing potluck items! Between cash donations by attendees and additional donations made through this website (see below), all expenses were covered.
We’d like to thank the following individuals for their financial support:
Sandra Friend and John Keatley
Peter and Nancy Passalacqua
Patricia and Terry Riley
A big thanks also goes out to our trail angels for picking up and dropping off hikers along the trail, often well off the beaten path of their usual travels.