11 Jul Getting it Right is Important – In This Case My Story was Incomplete
A few weeks back I wrote about the very special traditional Father’s Day event on Warsaw Island. Given my limited history I did not get the story completely right since I wrote from my head and heart and incomplete historical data.
Fortunately, Ms. Leigh Aiken took the time and interest to make the story more complete. The details of history are important and I greatly appreciate Ms. Aiken’s contribution as follows.
Thank you Leigh and the Aiken Family.
June 20, 2017
Dear Mayor Keyserling,
Thank you for joining us on Saturday, June 17. It was very special to have you at our family and community in celebration of Father’s Day.
I read your article that was published in the most recent edition of “Live, Work, Stay,” and I felt it necessary to write you to clarify some points about how the park and the events were started.
My family has lived on Warsaw Island since the antebellum era, and the park is the vision of my late brother, James “Jimmy” Aiken. We are small in number, but were born and raised on Warsaw Island alongside many other families, including Ms. Maybelle Gardener Mack’s.
Around 1980, Jimmy wanted to ensure that the senior citizens of Warsaw and the neighboring communities of Oaks and Eustis had a place to fellowship and celebrate on holidays. Each family member was asked to pay $20 for food, and the events were held in our mother’s yard on Warsaw Island Road.
Over the decades, the events continued and the families continued to increase the funds and feed the communities from that time to the present.
In 1999, Jimmy’s only daughter wanted to get married in her parent’s yard, which sits adjacent to our mother’s. He wanted to have a large place for her event, so he began to clear off the location that is now the park. He cleared this property daily, simply using his axe and the strength of his own two hands. Soon, many friends and families began dropping in to help.
After the wedding Jimmy continued to improve and build on the park. His untimely death in June 2005 crushed us, but we continued to grow the park and pursue his vision.
Today we hold six events annually in celebration of Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, the Fourth of July, Memorial Day, Children’s Day, and Labor Day.
The park is not on donated property. It belongs to my sister-in-law (and Jimmy’s widow) Richardene Aiken and my sister Beulah Aiken Smalls.
The six events are open to everyone, from any community. We support the park using donations from family and friends, and we hold an annual fundraiser in April.
Our mission remains the same from the park’s inception: to feed our senior citizens and have a place for our community members to fellowship. Food is delivered to those who are unable (or simply don’t feel like) going out on that particular day.
Mayor Keyserling please continue to visit us on Warsaw Island and enjoy our community! We are very proud of our history in Beaufort County, and are beyond thankful to all of the women and men who work tirelessly to keep Jimmy’s legacy alive.
The Aiken Family