Amid the heavy smoke off a full barbecue grill, Brooks Kirkland didn’t have to look far for the highlight of his summer.
“Right here,” he said, seated around a picnic table at the Lake Springs recreation area at Thurmond Lake. “Enjoying myself with the family.”
The Kirklands started a tradition of going to the lake for a family barbecue on Labor Day about five years ago, Gary Kirkland said. “And it’s getting bigger.”
Despite the threat of dark clouds overhead at times and lower-than-expected turnout during the weekend because of rain, things picked up Monday, park ranger Heather Killips said.
“The crowds have definitely improved today,” she said.
Rangers were talking to boaters about safety and reminding families to keep an eye on swimmers. For the most part, people were behaving themselves, Killips said.
Using a shovel that seemed to be nearly as tall as he was, 6-year-old Charlie Pilcher dug out a big rock from the edge of the lake.
“Now what do we do with it?” he asked his father, Charles, who laughed.
“We’re not taking it home,” he said. “Throw it in the lake.”
Undeterred, Charlie raced off to dig up more.
The family has had a beach outing and been to an indoor water park in North Carolina this summer but didn’t make any big trips, Charles Pilcher said.
“We stayed local,” he said.
The lake level was a little too low for Sharon Conklin as she gathered with friends and family for a barbecue.
“The rains should be helping,” she said.