Our Virginia State Parks on January 1 to hike in the New Year.
We asked those who came out to enter our photo contest. There were two ways to win. The Grand Prize photo would be selected by our staff and the first prize winner would be selected by the popular vote on our contest site. We also said we would consider multiple second prizes.
The Grand Prize Winner (selected by our staff) is Tanya Barton for this picture taken at Sky Meadows State Park. The winner gets a week stay in one of our family lodges.
Celebrating First Day Hike!
We had quite a contest on the popular vote for the First Prize, a week cabin stay. The winner with 1,936 votes is this photo by Rebecca Wood for this photo taken at Caledon State Park.
This was a pretty amazing vote tally and the photo receiving the next highest number of votes was impressive as well with 1,532. In fact the voting was neck and neck for most of the contest until the last day or so. We have decided to award this photo from Braden Govoni taken at Powhatan State Park a three night cabin stay.
Best Friends That Hike Together
The reason for this special prize is more than the total votes the photo garnered. In fact, something really special happened in this contest. During the voting, "Best Friends That Hike Together" decided to see why "Woodland Creature" was such stiff competition. When they learned the story they decided to stop trying to get more votes and basically concede. Why? "Woodland Creature" was what is called a micro-preemie. She was born at 26 weeks in May 2012 weighing in at a little under one pound twelve ounces, and spent 88 days in the hospital before she could come home. I have been following her blog, This is the article she sent me and it talks so much about the therapeutic value of parks. Charlie's mom needed the tonic of park for her mind and spirit and they both needed it for the health. Caledon on the First Day Hike was their 20th park.
I was fortunate to meet this duo at an event in December and while I knew the story, I was surprised to get an email from Charlie's mom on Tuesday that gave me the truly amazing part of the story. It seems the word had gotten out about the contest and the story of Charlie and her mom and people from all over were voting. Several people who read the blog and learned of the second place photo's concession in the contest posted on Facebook urging us to reward them for their kindness. I had actually already decided to add a special prize for them. At any rate, if you are interested in this wonderful story, I encourage you to read the article here.
We also would like to award special second place prizes of an Annual Virginia State Parks Passport Plus Parking Pass to the following photos for the reasons given:
While dogs were well represented in the photos submitted, we also had some photos that featured horses. The third highest vote getter in the contest was this photo of a First Day Horseback Ride. It's from Tracy Perez and was taken at Staunton River State Park.
Ride Into the New Year!
We had some pretty amazing photos taken at Grayson Highlands State Park thanks to a morning frost. It was hard to pick a favorite but we decided on this one by Allan Long.
This photo by Desiree Di Mauro is a sentimental favorite because her three children have posed with New Year wishes at Sky Meadows State Park all 3 years we have been doing the First Day Hikes.
Our Sky Meadows Tradition
Finally, we liked this photo byGiselle Tungol taken at First Landing State Park.
First Day, First Landing
Thanks to all who participated in the First Day Hikes and the contest. All of the pictures were great! Let's take one more look at them all: