Crowds gathered under the shade of the fairground’s swine pavilion Wednesday, June 5, for Trail Day.
The annual free event for seniors and the physically disabled attracted guests from St. Clair, Washington, Union and other surrounding areas.
Barb Hellmann and Sharon Monzyk started Trail Day 15 years ago to provide local seniors with an opportunity to enjoy Washington’s beautiful parks and scenery.
It is sponsored by the Washington Rotary Club and city parks department.
Tractor-pulled tram rides were held starting at 9 a.m. Wednesday. Groups of roughly 20 enjoyed a narrated tour of the roads surrounding Lions Lake and the riverfront park.
Tour guides talked about the history of some of Washington’s landmarks such as Lions Lake, the Washington Town & Country Fairgrounds, Missouri Meerschaum Company’s corn cob pipe factory and the Elijah McLean home.
Trail Day used to take place at Rennick Riverfront Park; however, flooding caused a change in location in 2013, and it has been held at the fairgrounds ever since. Tram riders viewed an even more flooded Missouri River as they rode past on Front Street.
One tram carried a group of around 18 seniors who bowl together at Oasis Lanes in Union on Wednesday mornings. The group, who have played together for nearly five years now, do a number of other activities together such as fishing and fundraising for various charities.
Many members of the group, who had never attended the event before, agreed the tram ride was enjoyable.
“Everyone had a great time!” said one of the bowling group members. “This should be our annual vacation.”
Several members of the group are veterans, including Vietnam veterans Robert Rettinghaus and Leland Witteger. Another veteran, Roy Wieneke, served in the Army during World War II and will turn 96 years old on Sunday.
In addition to tram rides, guests also enjoyed a large and ongoing game of bingo in the swine pavilion. At 10:30 a.m., a short ceremony commenced honoring the many veterans in the crowd.
Members of the VFW fired a rifle salute and played taps. Twenty white doves were then released into the sky among the applause from the crowd.
A lunch of hot dogs, hamburgers, chips, cookies and drinks was then served by volunteers as the bingo game continued.