The combinations of shade and smiles, families and fun were very much evident at Minot's Oak Park Friday afternoon. A number of people had gathered in the park to enjoy getting together on a sunny and hot Fourth of July afternoon. Several large picnics were held.
"We just wanted to do something for the Fourth," said Ardyth Beston, New Town. "I'm the grandmother. These are granddaughters, grandsons and great-grand kids."
The large family gathering had an impressive spread of picnic-style food covering two tables. Hamburgers, corn-on-the-cob, watermelon, cookies and cake were among the selections. The food was good but so too was the opportunity for young children to play in the park's splash pad, which features a variety of ways to enjoy refreshing water.
A picnic in Oak Park proved to be a perfect way to spend a hot Fourth of July afternoon in Minot. The nearby splash pad and ample shade provided relief from the heat.
"The little ones sure wanted to get in the water," remarked Beston.
Beston's grandson, Preston, said he was enjoying his time with family at the park.
"It's just fun. A good day. It's a good day. The food is good. It's really good," said Preston.
"We just wanted to spend a day together," added Devon Bateman, New Town. "It's all about friends and family. Everybody wanted to play at the park. It's really nice out, really hot and nice."
Bateman said she was responsible for "most of it" when asked about the array of food. One of the big hits, she said, was a "Snickers" cake. The family group was hoping to finish off the Fourth of July gathering by watching fireworks.
With many people looking for a way to spend the Fourth, Oak Park's playground equipment was particularly busy. Swings, slides and climbing obstacles all provided fun for youngsters and the parents or grandparents who were with them. The park's signature trees provided ample shade to help escape the heat of the day.
"We're just kind of killing time until going to watch some fireworks tonight," said Robin Toledo, Minot Air Force Base.
Toledo was pushing his 4-year-old son, Justos, on one of the park's swings Friday afternoon. Justos was nursing a sprained ankle but that was all forgotten while playing with his dad. Both were wearing big smiles.
When asked about the significance of the Fourth of July, Toledo nodded his head and said the third of July also was a memorable day for him.
"That's when my family emigrated from the Philippines to here in 1984," said Toledo. "Last year my brother got married on the third of July."
Another popular spot at the park Friday afternoon was a table offering free lemonade, which was an ideal refreshment in the hot conditions. The free lemonade stand was manned by Sister Peterson and Sister Haycock of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.
"We just wanted to get out in the community and meet some people and talk with them and thought this would be a good way to do it," said Peterson, San Francisco, Calif.
"The Fourth is a great day when families get together. This is a great way to get to know the people in Minot," added Haycock, Lyman, Wyo.
Elsewhere in the park, couples and small gatherings were evident. Many were enjoying the day, relaxing and waiting until dark so they could watch colorful and dazzling fireworks to commemorate Independence Day.