As much as Memorial Day was for honoring fallen soldiers, to many, Monday was the unofficial beginning of summer holidays and a day to honor not having to rise early for work or school.
Though the National Weather Service predicts rain for most of the week, Monday’s holiday brought a blue sky, warm temperatures and
the chance to kick off summer the old-fashioned way — with a smoking grill and some sparkling water.
Some Gainesville residents observed their day off by grilling family feasts and taking a dip in Lake Lanier at the newly dredged Longwood Park.
Gainesville resident Mike Kimbrough saw an opportunity to spend the holiday fishing when his wife and son decided to shop. Kimbrough took advantage by hauling his fishing pole to Longwood Park.
Kimbrough said he was not concerned with taking any fish home.
"It’s just nice being here in the sunshine," Kimbrough said. "It sure beats being at work."
Besides, Kimbrough planned on returning anything he caught back into the lake.
"I don’t have the patience to clean them," he said.
Standing near Kimbrough was another fisherman, 16-year-old Jallissia Daniel. Not as seasoned as Kimbrough, Monday marked the first time Daniel had cast a reel.
Daniel, spending the afternoon at the park with her extended family, decided to give it a try when she saw her brother-in-law fishing.
"It looked like he was having fun," she said. "It would be a miracle if I could catch anything."
Daniel said she was not sure what she would do if a fish took her bait.
Daniel and her cousins enjoyed the lakeside while their other family members grilled a feast of chicken and corn. Memorial Day was the first time this year that the family, which likes to get together for outside meals in the warmer months, had the chance to grill out at the park.
"It was hot today (Monday), so our family wanted to cook out," Daniel said.
Her cousin, Q’amir Imse, 10, was less interested in the grilling, but more so in the swimming. Imse and her other cousins splashed in the water — until the waves came and then they squealed and rapidly retreated to shore.
"I could swim all day today," Imse said.
Fifteen-year-old Elizabeth Ponce sat with her sister and her friend at a picnic table adorned with paper plates, mustard and mayonnaise while Ponce’s mother tended to the grill.
The fresh out of school teenagers had their bathing suits ready for an afternoon swim, but were not quite ready in the early afternoon. The girls were content staying dry in the 85 degree heat, and, like most, were just happy to have a day at the park.
"We’re just here enjoying each other, having fun with friends," Ponce said.