Picnic comes full circle for Pinehurst Mayor
Pinehurst Mayor Pete Runnels began the tradition of a Labor Day Picnic for area seniors in 1998. The tradition has carried on every year except 2008 when the picnic was first postponed, then cancelled due to Hurricanes Gustav and Ike. This year sees Runnels back in office and in charge of the picnic once again, next Monday, Sept. 3.
“It’s a lot like it was,” said Runnels. “The main difference is the way we solicited donations.” Runnels said when they started; one guy personally went to all the businesses seeking donations. “He must have just loved doing it, because he went everywhere to the businesses and he would always give us the right amount of money.” Runnels said when he came back this year; he saw they now solicit funds and donations by sending out a letter to all the businesses. He also said when the picnic began, they served barbecue brisket and shoulder clods. “Now they are doing the link, but it seems to be what people like. They love the gumbo and the links are fine. If it’s not broke, why fix it,” said Runnels.
Food will be provided by the city and Robert’s Meat Market and Steakhouse. The menu will be gumbo, links, potato salad, bread, watermelon, cake and drinks.
“The people that ran it last year, like Joe (Parkhurst) and Pam Crew and some of the other members; they really did an excellent job. They’ve taken a good thing and kept it a good thing,” said Runnels.
The Pinehurst Labor Day Picnic has been enjoyed by hundreds of Orange County citizens. Parkhurst, who is currently the Pinehurst city administrator, said last year’s attendance was about 650. Attendance has topped 700 in some years past. “It just depends on a lot of things like the weather,” said Runnels.
“It’s been a good thing for a lot of reasons,” said Runnels. He said the reason it was started was to take a recognized holiday that wasn’t necessarily a family holiday and do something that friends and neighbors could come together and share companionship. “It was all for the people and it’s been a good thing.”
As always, picnickers will gather at the Family Worship Center (old Bancroft Elementary School on 41st Street). You can park at the location or shuttle buses will transport citizens from Sabine Federal Credit Union to the picnic site. Parkhurst said they will go to some of the assisted living facilities if they want to attend. He and Runnels said last year buses went to Optimist Village and The Meadows.
To schedule service for one of the assisted living facilities contact the city hall at 409-886-3873.
There will be a change in entertainment this year. Doug Childress and Gone to Texas will be the band playing Monday. “Doug Childress used to be one of the best entertainers around here and he got out of it for a while,” said Parkhurst. Childress has returned to the entertainment scene. “They will be here and start playing about 10 o’clock,” said Parkhurst. “They will play until we’re ready to leave; about 2.”
Parkhurst said there will also be some line dancers, The Orange Blossoms, providing entertainment.
People start gathering around 9:30 a.m. and they start serving food at 10:30 a.m.
Everyone is welcome to the picnic, but only Pinehurst seniors, 60 years and older, are eligible for door prizes. Be sure to register at the sign-up table at the picnic.
Orange Savings Bank donated a flat big screen TV. Two rockers were donated by Welch’s Furniture and Robert’s Meat Market. There are many other door prizes including gift certificates to area businesses.
Drawing for prizes begins as soon as everyone has been served and are finished eating. The picnic usually winds down around 2 p.m.
For more information, or to make a financial or prize donation for this year’s event, call Pinehurst City Hall at 409-886-3873. It takes about $5,000 to host each event.
“This is a good time to thank all those that have kept this going,” said Runnels. Since Runnels began the picnic, other Pinehurst mayors have been Rickey Trevino, Jerry Hussy, Billy Permenter and his brother, T.W. Permenter.
Roy Dunn, publisher of The Record Newspapers shares watermelon with Orange poet laureate Pearl Burgess. RECORD PHOTO: Penny LeLeux