published Saturday, November 26th, 2011

No holiday for Chattanooga’s parks workers


by Cliff Hightower
DeeDee Toney hurls a bag of trash in the garbage can Friday morning in Coolidge Park after the Thanksgiving holiday. Toney and the other park custodians spent the morning collecting the trash, picking up the litter and blowing leaves.
DeeDee Toney hurls a bag of trash in the garbage can Friday morning in Coolidge Park after the Thanksgiving holiday. Toney and the other park custodians spent the morning collecting the trash, picking up the litter and blowing leaves.
Photo by Jenna Walker.

Ranger Jamie Christopher went one by one to each city park Friday morning, unlocking gates.

It’s a job that’s not a normal assignment for her.

“We don’t open the parks, we close them,” she said. “On holidays, we do this.”

Chattanooga’s parks always stay open and the city always has someone there to make sure they are open, clean and safe. It doesn’t matter if it’s Thanksgiving, Easter or the Fourth of July, a park ranger or a park custodian is always there.

The day after Thanksgiving especially needs staff, said Bob Saylor, the city’s Parks Director.

“That’s a big day for the parks,” he said. “Especially if it’s a nice day.”

He said any holiday or holiday weekend is “just a regular day for us.”

Deedee Tony, supervisor of park custodians, knows it well. She and her staff were busy Friday morning taking out trash at Coolidge Park and blowing leaves. They cleaned windows on the carousel and Walker Pavilion.

“We always have to work holidays,” she said. “The only day we get off is Christmas Day.”

She said she was in at 5 a.m. Thanksgiving Day with another city employee. They were off by 11 a.m. and got to celebrate Thanksgiving with family.

Christopher worked the day as well. She spent Thanksgiving opening the gates and unlocking bathrooms at South Chickamauga Greenway, North River Soccer Complex, Greenway Farm and Riverview Park.

She worked from 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Christopher said she did get a bit of a Thanksgiving. Residents around Coolidge Park came into the office with some turkey and cookies for the park rangers.

“Some nice people came in and gave us a couple of plates,” she said.

She came in and completed the same routine Friday morning. After about an hour of opening gates, she spent the rest of the day patrolling the area around Coolidge Park, Renaissance Park and the 21st Century Waterfront.

It’s all in a day’s work for the city employees out working over the holidays.

Tony said she’s worked for the city 10 years. She said she has no problems with working the holidays.

“I’m so used to it,” she said. “Ever since I began working here, I’ve been doing it.”

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