While D.J. Kelly isn’t ready to trade in his Xbox, he did enjoy a trip to yesteryear on wooden stilts.
“It was awesome and cool,” said the 6-year-old from Blue Springs who, along with his mother and teenage sister, spent Saturday at Missouri Town 1855. “When I kept doing, it became easy.”
D.J. was among the throng of visitors at the Jackson County historic site as part the areawide celebration of the 25th anniversary of the MetroGreen plan and National Trails Day.
The MetroGreen system was charted and approved in 1991. The plan calls for more than 1,000 miles of interconnected public and private open spaces, greenways and trails that eventually will link trails in seven counties in both Kansas and Missouri. Today it has more than 350 miles.
Jackson County, with more than 100 miles of walking and biking trails, plays a key role in that initiative, said Jonathan Klusmeyer, site manager of Missouri Town 1855.
The county recently purchased the Rock Island Corridor, which will be used to connect with Missouri’s cross-state Katy Trail.
National Trails Day is held each year on the first Saturday in June and is designed to highlight the area’s recreational trails and encourage families to get outside and enjoy nature.
Among the other activities throughout the area were a hike along Indian Creek Trail, a bike ride in Pleasant Hill, a 5K run in Grandview and Children’s Day in Lee’s Summit.
D.J.’s mother, Adrianne Kelly, said she was driving through the area when she noticed a sign promoting the Missouri Town 1855 event and decided to pull over.
“I thought it was something the children would enjoy,” said Kelly, who also took a turn walking on the stilts.
Other activities included log sawing and chores that would have been done during that time period.
Children saw oxen, pigs, chickens and horses, and volunteers dressed in clothes from the period. They played games from the 1850s, made rope from twine, participated in pie eating contests and attended a medicine show, Klusmeyer said.
“It’s important to educate the kids on their history. They get out here and they get to actually experience living history. They get to see it happening; they understand how the people that came before them actually lived and their struggles.”
Calli Dressen, 10, said she enjoyed her journey back in time. Calli used a saw to slice off a small block of wood.
“It was pretty easy once I got the hang of it,” said Calli, who mentioned she could adjust to living without her modern conveniences. “I guess you might get used to it. I love the outdoors.”