Minooka planning midnight ride

Published 11:31 am Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Usually when night falls on Minooka Park, all is quiet except for the sounds of the wilderness.

But on Friday night, July 11, the park’s trails will be humming with ATVs and dirt bikes during the first ever Midnight Ride at Minooka Park.

Started as a way to help park-goers beat the heat, the event is the brainchild of Park Manager Gerald Arrington and Park Ranger Mark Alexander.

For one night only, they will be leaving the gates open until midnight.

“We were just trying to do something to help these riders avoid some of this heat,” Arrington said. “Other parks have done it in the past, especially during the hot summer months.”

On that day, the park will open at 9 a.m. as usual.

Regular admission will be charged, and all riders must have proper lighting before they can ride after dark. This is important, Arrington said.

“If you don’t have proper lighting, you’re not going to be allowed on the trails. We don’t want to create anything dangerous out there,” he said.

For those with safety concerns, park officials will be monitoring the trails as usual.

The park’s trails are lined with reflective directional signs that should prove helpful to riders after dark.

Guests of the park may also fish in the lake and use the picnic tables and grills during the extended hours, but everyone must exit the park by midnight.

“We will lock the gates at midnight,” Arrington said.

In addition, the park will remain open two extra hours every Friday during July and August, until 8 p.m.

“We’ll be planning more [midnight rides] in the future if this does well,” Arrington said.

The park is located on County Road 146 off Highway 31 north of Jemison. For more information call (205) 312-1376 or (205) 312-1116.