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MOUNT VERNON -- Join Ariel-Foundation Park for a First Day Hike on Wednesday, Jan. 1. Walkers should meet at the Urton Clock House at 10 Pittsburgh Avenue at 11 a.m.

The walk will last about an hour. The event is free and participants can enjoy warm refreshments and a bonfire pit available at the depot after the hike.

First Day Hikes are part of a nationwide initiative led by America’s State Parks to encourage people to get outdoors. While Ariel-Foundation Park is not a state park, the First Day Hike is a great time for families to be together and renew a commitment to being healthy. On New Year’s Day, hundreds of free, guided hikes will be organized in all 50 states. Kids and adults all across America will be participating in First Day Hikes, getting their hearts pumping and enjoying the beauty of area parks.

Ariel-Foundation Park's third annual First Day Hike is organized by knowledgeable volunteers Doug McLarnan and Barry Bowden, and the park’s Nature Programs Coordinator Jody Holland. The hike aims to create a fun experience for the whole family. People are invited to savor the beauty of the park’s natural resources with the comfort of an experienced guide so they may be inspired to take advantage of these local treasures throughout the year. While the event is called a "hike," it is an easy walk and participants will be on flat ground.

The hike will take place as long as roads are open and weather is not dangerous. Hiking during the winter months can be fun if you prepare properly. Depending on temperatures, participants should plan to dress in layers, wear a hat and bring an insulated cup or thermos with a warm beverage. Don't forget about sunscreen as the sun's rays can glare off of snow.

Events sponsors include Wendy's, Kroger and Jeff and Norma Boucher. For more information about Ariel-Foundation Park, visit or call 740-398-6603.

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