The Meridian Bridge is alive.
It is growing, evolving — becoming more and more of a gathering place and attraction.
The latest evidence of that was the successful first installment of the City of Yankton’s “Music at the Meridian” series last week.
As a Yankton City Commissioner and Yankton citizen, I was beaming with pride at the work our Parks and Recreation Department did to bring more than 200 people to the foot of the Meridian Bridge to enjoy music and food, as well as awe at the wonderful natural view. If you didn’t make it to the first concert, plan to attend one of the shows from 6-8 p.m. on Thursdays throughout July.
The bridge has also grown in other small but fascinating ways.
People continue to adorn the bridge with locks of love, a custom that interweaves humanity into the very fabric of the steel and concrete structure and becomes an attraction all its own.
The National Park Service has developed educational displays that provide people with background on the natural and historical elements of the area.
The Yankton Parks and Recreation Department collaborated with the Yankton Community Library (and a variety of sponsors) to create Story Walk, a series of children’s book panels that encourage children and adults to exercise while also enjoying a story.
The new campground on the Nebraska side of the river has also changed the Meridian Bridge experience. While I sometimes miss the serene environment that portion of the walk once represented, I now can also find charm in the human activity that takes place there. People sing songs, enjoy the beach and cook over campfires. These are activities that represent a joyous part of the human experience and, even being on the periphery of those activities, I find the joy contagious.
All of this is a long way of saying how fortunate I feel to have such an amenity in my back yard. The experience of walking the Meridian Bridge and taking in the vistas of the Missouri River never fails to inspire introspection and gratefulness. The act of making that voyage on a regular basis is, I think, a prescription for becoming a better human being. And I’m glad so many people from near and far are partaking in it.