Billy Goat Day is our annual gathering of Florida Trail hikers – past, present, and future – along the Florida Trail in Central Florida on legendary hiker Billy Goat’s birthday, January 28. This year, it all came together smoothly and quickly, thanks to volunteers who raised their hands and said “We’ll help!” We held it for a second year at Lake Mills Park in Chuluota, which has a nice and inexpensive campground on site as well as a pavilion big enough to fit our group.
Your entire Board of Directors was present at this event, flipping burgers and chatting with hikers old and new, but more importantly we had 15 Class of 2017 thru-hikers present among the record crowd of about 75 attendees. Many thanks to those who picked the thru-hikers up along the trail and dropped them off again. Like last year, two walked in under their own power, timing their hike just right.
As a potluck and a picnic, it was a huge success thanks to everyone bringing more food than we ever expected, above and beyond the food list that Eleni McDaniel-Rebman was managing online. TruckrBob helped us secure the pavilion permit, and Chris Bell once again produced a video that tells the story of what Billy Goat Day is all about – dozens and dozens of hikers talking trail and gear.
One of our honored guests this year was Dell Loyless, who at 100 years old was the oldest member of ALDHA – he joined the new organization as a life member while hiking the Appalachian Trail in the early 1980s – and of the Florida Trail Association. It was one of the best days of his life, he said, meeting so many fellow long distance hikers. It was good that hikers got to meet Dell, as he passed away several months after the event.
Billy Goat, the man of the day, had a fabulous time as well, and we’re pretty sure by the smiles that just about everyone who attended did as well.