The National Park Service hit a milestone this year. Four hundred parks across America celebrated the agency's 97th birthday.
"We are very much in love with the National Parks. We have been to, of the 400 units there are, we have been to well over half," said New Jersey resident Nelson Dittmar.
Dittmar and his wife Carolyn, came to the Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller park in Woodstock on a very special day. The National Park Service Agency is celebrating Founders' Day. Sunday marks the agency's 97th birthday. With more than 400 National Park units across the nation, many visitors say there is a lot to celebrate.
"And all of them reflect some piece of America's heritage. We go from the famous ones like Yellowstone and the Grand Canyon, to less known ones and historical sites," said Tim Maguire of the National Park Service.
Every National Park in America is offering free admission, on this Founder's Day, to all visitors. In additional to the normal tours in Woodstock, parks officials say they set up a special dialogue session for people to talk about what the parks mean to them.
"Speaking with the rangers, speaking with the interpretors, asking questions, telling them what is important to you, or maybe suggesting what would be helpful for other tourists coming," Carolyn Dittmar said.
The Billings-Marsh-Rockefeller park is one of two National Park sites in Vermont, offering 450 acres of pristine woods and more than 20 miles of trails. But Maguire says, the parks represent more than the physical aspects. For nearly a century, the national park service has evolved into a multi-faceted agency.
"Everything from civil rights, to immigration, to even contemporary things that are happening in this country. The National Park Service has a site that focuses on those subjects," Maguire said.
For first-timers, they say coming out to the park on Founders Day was a pleasant surprise.
"We have lived in Vermont for 40 years, and we have been to the farm across the street but we haven't been to the mansion. So it took us 97 years to get here, so happy birthday National Parks," said Bob Vinikoor of Norwich.
An important milestone, that is celebrated across the nation.
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