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'A small piece of heaven' at Fred Howard Park beach

We asked you to send us your favorite memories of Fred Howard Park. Here's what a few of you had to say:

While the beach was being built, my family would check out the progress while out on our boat. My brother, sister and I, along with our dog, would play on the huge mounds of sand created when they were dredging for the bridges.

In my teen years, Howard Park beach was where my social life began. Every day, after school, when I had a chance, I would rush home, get on my bike and ride to Howard Park beach to hang out with my "beach bum" friends. I spent just about every free Saturday and Sunday there, too, and once I could drive, that entailed cruising the beach causeway again and again.

While away at college, I can remember coming home for a visit and driving or biking out to the beach and feeling like I was really home when I hit the causeway and saw the beach and got a whiff of the beach air.

As my life as progressed, the beach has become a place to gather my head, commune with God, exercise, enjoy beautiful sunsets and have family time. Right now I am enjoying the beach and causeway at least two to five times a week. While Howard Park beach is closed, it will seem as if an old friend has gone away for a very long vacation.

Melody Williams, Tarpon Springs

•••

You asked for fond Howard Park memories? I have been visiting Florida for over a year now with my boyfriend, whose parents live in Tarpon Springs.

On my first visit to Howard Park, I declared that it was a small piece of heaven. Each visit down from Connecticut, Howard Park would be one of the first places I would want to go.

This past June we went for a sunset. Again I declared, "Ahhh, I am back in heaven." Much to my surprise, my boyfriend dropped to one knee and said, "That's why I chose here to ask you a question. … Will you marry me?"

He brought out a beautiful ring and, right at the moment that the sun was setting, I said yes. So, do I have fond memories of Howard Park? You bet I do!! I don't know if I will survive a whole year without visiting one of my favorite places on Earth.

Susan Coleman, Vernon, Conn.

•••

The closing of Fred Howard beach is going to affect not only myself, but my 19-year-old daughter as well.

It is where I drive around just to see if I can relieve her pain of RSD/spinal arthropathy. Seeing the dolphins in the water and the sunset makes it a better day for her.

She can't walk because of the pain, so the short drive makes it tolerable.

She has had RSD since she was 16, from an injury when she fell on her leg. Now she has an auto-immune arthritis.

But on her GOOD days, I would always drive her around Fred Howard beach. Dunedin Causeway is just too far for her at this time.

Francine Roca, Tarpon Springs

•••

My husband and I live a short distance from the beach at Fred Howard Park in Tarpon Springs. We have watched our son chase the seagulls, build sand castles, catch crabs and fly kites there. Now that we are older, we love last-minute trips to watch the sunset while we sit in our foldable chairs.

It was on one of these "sunset trips" that one of the most beautiful memories I have occurred. We brought my aging parents with us on a warm evening in the spring.

My father was deep into Parkinson's disease and hardly spoke; he was lost in a world of dementia and physically frail.

He sat in his chair while a glorious sunset settled around us. Much to my surprise, he said my name and asked me to walk with him. He held my arm just as he had when he walked me down the aisle at my wedding.

He could only make it 15 yards or so when he had to return to his chair, but for a moment he was the father who had taught me to swim and ice skate; the father who built islands in the Caribbean and skyscrapers in New York and Boston.

I believe that God watched us at Fred Howard Park beach that evening. With love and compassion, He gave my Dad a brief chance to be the man he was again.

Dad died a few months later. We still go for sunsets at Fred Howard Park beach and I always think of my father and of our Father, who gave us such a precious gift.

Diane Green, Tarpon Springs

'A small piece of heaven' at Fred Howard Park beach 09/02/08 [Last modified: Wednesday, September 3, 2008 9:30am]
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