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Small Memorial Day Gathering Turns into Something Much Larger

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GRANGER, Iowa -- It was a good day for those spending their Memorial Day outside Monday, as the weather cooperated.

Campers at Jester Park took advantage of the sunshine and warm temperatures.

“It’s absolutely fantastic to have a nice day like this, and the kids can play in the playground and everyone can come up here to the Jester Park area and enjoy the park and the lake and everything. It’s very nice,” said Tanner Rickertsen.

“We’re a family from Ankeny and we all live in Ankeny and this is close, which is great. It’s a Polk County Conservation Board facility and they do a great job with playgrounds for the kids and things for the adults to do, and the setting here is wonderful,” said Steve Drake.

While many were thankful for the beautiful weather, Iowans say they're also thankful for the reason behind the holiday.

“I think it gets lost a little bit, the festivities, why people actually do get together, people do get the day off,” said Ian Tice. “It’s not just about getting drunk and having a party. I think people forget that. I do have a lot of friends that serve in the military and it’s just a nice way to remember them.”

These folks were part of a much larger group and gathering, a gathering that started small and got bigger.

“The three of us went to school together. I’ve known her since seventh grade, so probably 40-something years,” said Debbie Ash

“I just decided I wanted to have a picnic. My mom loves to have picnics and so I started with my family, which we have a lot, and then I thought well I wanted to invite my friends, so I started telling friends, then they told their friends. I’ve got over 75 people coming, and that’s who signed up, we have people coming that haven’t signed up,” said Becky Bales.

That includes at least 55 adults and 30 kids.

“I’ve been doing it for about over a month and my husband’s constantly saying, oh you’ve got plenty of time. I have a list, and when I left this morning I marked everything off except ice, so he keeps saying I’m going to forget something. So far I haven’t forgotten a thing,” Bales.

And amid all the grilling, games and fun, there's recognition of the day's true meaning: Remembering our fallen heroes.

“I think it’s amazing, they gave it all. I saw a post this morning that showed D-Day on the beach and it said, while you’re on your beach enjoying … think of what they had to do on their beach,” said Taylor Wieland.

And the folks that organized the big get-together said that in addition to planning, the key is to delegate. Everybody does a little and it all comes together.