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Editorial: The Bullhole deserves our support

I give credit to Blinky and his cronies.

Do you remember Blinky?

He was a catfish. An old catfish who lived at The Bullhole. He knew the history of that special spot on the South Yadkin River now called RiverPark at Cooleemee Falls – The Bullhole.

Blinky was the brainchild of the late Jim Rumley and his wife Lynn. He made public appearances, teaching our young people about the history of southern Davie County. There was even talk about a permanent play featuring the whiskered critter.

But that never materialized.

What did materialize was the park – and what a park it is. Not only is it a beautiful spot on the river – it is open to the public for folks of all types of life to enjoy.

And enjoy it they do.

Last year, the park was closed. It wasn’t closed because of tainted water, or because of the pandemic. It wasn’t closed from a lack of use, either. It was closed because too darn many people showed up to enjoy nature’s bounty. It was just too crowded – so crowded that it had become dangerous. The powers that be for the park went into action this year, limiting hours, providing personnel during open hours and charging a small admission – one anyone can afford. And when too many people show up – the latecomers are turned away.

It’s a great solution to what appeared to be an insurmountable problem for a group with limited funds. The park – on the Rowan County side of the river – is still Cooleemee. (There are plans to expand the park on the Davie side, including a pedestrian bridge over the river, but that takes, you guessed it, money.) But the small town doesn’t have money to pour into the park. The park board relies on grants and donations and volunteers – volunteers who annually work hundreds of hours keeping the park in tip-top shape. You can find the park on Facebook and the internet, and donations can be mailed to P.O. Box 735, Cooleemee, NC 27014.

Now, it’s time for the rest of us to help.

On Saturday, Aug. 14, The Great Bullhole Duck Race will be held at the park. It’s an annual fundraiser, one that deserves everyone’s support. Of course, you can “buy” rubber ducks for a chance at cash prizes (It’s customary – but not required – for winners to donate their prize back to the park.). This year, the park board is taking on sponsorships, as well. There are five levels of sponsorship – from $1,000 to $100. Be generous, and give what you can.

Every business in Davie and Rowan counties should consider this as a perfect chance to give back to their community. Not every family – let me rephrase that – most families cannot afford to pack up their family and head to the beach. But they can afford to pack a picnic lunch, pay $5 for the family and enjoy at day at the park. Water is usually flowing over the dam and across the rocks, making a relaxing sound. There is a sandy beach there, left from past floods. There are old trees that provide shade. Kids can play in pools of water. Fishing is popular.

But most of all, with it’s winding path from the parking area to the river with benches and picnic tables, it is a place to enjoy nature.

One trip to the park on a busy day will show you that folks of all ages enjoy their time there. The sounds of kids laughing, adults talking, water flowing and birds chirping are common.

Those of us who have been around for a while know that The Bullhole hasn’t always been family friendly. For too many years, it was a place to hang out for many of the wrong people. Sure, locals used it too, but the seedy side of our culture had all but taken over.

Then along came Blinky. He changed everything.

We can only hope that current and future generations will find their own Blinky – and the park will remain the vital place that it is for recreation for all.

– Mike Barnhardt