Scotty, Tiffany and Stephen Carrier with Matthew Haynes, Lindsay and Garrett Harbin all gather to play disc golf at Winged Deer Park on Memorial Day.
On Monday, many people in Johnson City were thankful for the freedom to choose how to spend their Memorial Day.
With many businesses closed in observance of the holiday, some found it easier to get together for an outdoor activity.
A couple of families and their friends were able to come together for the first time this season like North Carolina resident Jody Pierson, who spent her entire Memorial Day weekend in Johnson City with her mother Laura Vines.
Vines and Pierson brought Steven and Cayden Pierson out for a swim at Winged Deer Park, which was bustling with people playing in the sun on Monday.
“It’s a nice summer day,” Pierson said. “This is our first day out playing. We’ve not been over here in a couple of months, so it’s nice to go somewhere and be out.”
Just over the hill from the Pierson family, the Rodgers and Rose families were having a picnic with some friends near the water. Tiffany Rodgers and Mary Rose agreed that Memorial Day makes it easier for them to get together.
“This is actually the first time that more than one person in our family has been around to do something like this,” Rodgers said. “I’m usually the only one that is in Johnson City for the holidays. This is the first holiday that we’ve had everybody off work.”
Beside the Rose and Rodgers families, people were waiting to launch their boats into the water, which was also in use by many people on Jet Skis and kayaks.
With the increase in people and waves on the lake, Glenda Short said she wrapped up her relaxing kayak ride to go home to ride her bike. She had already been on a hike earlier that day, too.
“I’m off work so I thought I would get out,” said Short, who works as a social worker for the Veterans Affairs Medical Center.
Short said she uses her time on the water as time to reflect and, especially for Memorial Day, remember the many fallen soldiers she’s cared for throughout her life.
“I have lots of veterans in my family and friends who died in World War II, and the Korean and Vietnam wars,” she said.
Also at Winged Deer Park, Johnson City resident Scotty Carrier, his family and friends were playing a game of disc golf before they went home to have a cookout.
“We are all competitive and we like anything that involves competition,” Carrier said. “We are not exceptionally good at it, we just love doing it.”
Carrier said he was excited to have a day free from obligations so he could spend time with family and friends.
“We are all thankful to live in the United States of America where we have the opportunity to do something like this,” Carrier said.
Another place that received many visitors on Memorial Day was the Mountain Home National Cemetery.
Taking time out of an activity-filled day for a history lesson, Brent Passey said he wanted to make sure his children learned on Memorial Day how America was shaped through military service.
“We are just here to teach our kids about those who have come before us and sacrificed, whether it was their life or time, for our country and freedom,” Passey said.
Legion Street Pool was also a busy place for people to enjoy the hot and sunny weather.
Makenzie Casey said she was thankful to spend time playing in the pool with her mom and good friend Hayden Howell on Memorial Day.
The holiday symbolizes more to Casey than being able to go for a swim or being out of school for the summer.
She said Memorial Day is “a day and celebration for the veterans, so we can say thank you.”