Ahhh, spring break.
The week of vacation anticipated by students and teachers alike starts this afternoon when school bells ring dismissing classes across Hamilton County. Some families will choose to remain in town and "staycation" -- discovering the fun found in Chattanooga.
Others will pack the van tonight and head out to the Smokey Mountains to hike and camp or to Florida's Panhandle for an idyllic week at the beach.
Or, hopefully idyllic. Sometimes even the best-laid plans fail and Spring Break ... well ... breaks.
When we asked Times Free Press readers what was their worst spring break experience, they shared these sad tales of woe on Facebook.
• "Packed up and headed to Pensacola, Fla. Made it to the Taco Bell in Red Bank. My dad hit the car in front of us ... we were stuck at home, without a car, for the week." -- Brandy Bickford Long, Hixson
• "This (first week of April) was my worst. Tuesday night, I went over a manhole and the lid came up and blew my tire, making me lose control. I now have $1,500 damage to my van. Insurance says it wasn't on full coverage. This is the second time this has happened. We are paying full-coverage premiums. Was taking kids to Atlanta Zoo on Wednesday; can't now because I can't get all seven kids in my car plus three wheelchairs and equipment needed. Plus the extra person to help push a chair. We did glow-in-the-dark bubbles and movies instead." -- Robin Farmer, Chattanooga
• "Me being sick with strep, kids had stomach flu, hubby had surgery on his wrist and elbow ... worst spring break ever!" -- April Sosebee Gillenwater, Rossville
• "Being stuck in the house with three kids because the weather was awful and we couldn't do anything. lol" -- Brooke H. Cooper, Lookout Valley
• "Blizzard of 1993 ... yep, that was the week of my spring break!" Lorie Swanson Eaker, teen parent educator at Communities in Schools of Catoosa County
Keeper Kids is one of a dozen programs offered as part of Spring Break Safari, adventures for children that are offered at attractions around town. Some come with special package prices, while others are included in the price of admission to the attraction.
For example, the Tennessee Aquarium is offering special Spring Break Keeper Kids activities, for ages 6 and up, twice a day in the Ocean Journey and River Journey buildings. These 15- to 20-minute programs range from helping aquarium staff feed animals to behind-the-scenes activities. Kids may sign up for their choices as they enter the downtown attraction.
You can also bring out your child's inner Johnny Depp as he plays pirate aboard the Southern Belle riverboat. Bluff View Art District offers a scavenger art hunt through the district (pick up a map at Rembrandt's Coffee House) as well as the chance for budding chefs to be a chocolate artist.
Your child could be a conductor at the Tennessee Valley Railroad, take part in a sword fight at Rock City's Fairytale Nights, be an engineer on the trolley at the Chattanooga Choo Choo or a spelunker into the depths of Ruby Falls. A complete schedule with prices can be found at www.chattanoogafun.com/spring/safari-attractions.
Contact Susan Pierce at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6284.
Susan Palmer Pierce is a reporter and columnist in the Life department. She began her journalism career as a summer employee 1972 for the News Free Press, typing bridal announcements and photo captions. She became a full-time employee in 1980, working her way up to feature writer, then special sections editor, then Lifestyle editor in 1995 until the merge of the NFP and Times in 1999. She was honored with the 2007 Chattanooga Woman of ...