Meridianites return home, reconnect at picnic

Paula Merritt / The Meridian Star

Jaylyn Rembert, right, creates a huge bubble along with Jace Houston, left, and Jayla Rembert Saturday as they enjoy their time at the Meridianites Picnic in Highland Park.

The Meridianites Picnic was an event filled with music, food and togetherness as former residents returned to the place they called home.

Saturday’s picnic, part of several days of activities hosted by The National Council of Meridianites, filled Highland Park in Meridian with dozens of RVs, tents, grills and cars.

Hundreds of people leisurely strolled around the park as scents of grilled food wafted through the air.

People used the park amenities, viewed the natural wildlife and listened to music provided by DJ Se7en in the center pavilion.

Many of those in attendance were Meridian residents, but there were also those who were returning to the city from far off places.

Billy McKey, a former resident who moved to Tuscaloosa, Alabama says that it’s sad how some things in Meridian have changed, but he’s always excited to come back for the picnic.

Meridianites return home, reconnect at picnic

Paula Merritt / The Meridian Star

Stephanie Collier, left, Theresa Whitlock, Phyllis Collier, Virginia Jackson and Brenda Walker prepare ribs at the Meridianites Picnic in Highland Park Saturday.

“A lot has changed. Some areas have gone down and there are areas with houses but nobody lives in them,” he said. “The picnic is a blast. You see friends you haven’t seen in years, you cry, you laugh and go back to the old days.”

His wife, Brenda McKey, isn’t from Meridian, but was impressed with how the city can host such events.

Meridianites return home, reconnect at picnic

Paula Merritt / The Meridian Star

Alfred Wilson, left, Tashia Wilson, Landon Ivy and Alexx Wilson gather around the grill as they cook for their family and friends at the Meridianites Picnic in Highland Park.

“It’s great,” she said. “I like that people can come together. In some states you, can’t get people to do this.”

An assortment of reunions were also held in tandem with the picnic, with tents of various school years posted around the park.

One such tent hosted members of Meridian High School’s 1984 graduating class.

“It’s nice to see a good portion of my classmates again,” said Maurice Heidelberg, class of ‘84, who returned to Meridian from Mobile, Alabama for the reunion.

“It’s good to come back every now and then and see what’s going on,” he added.

Meridianites return home, reconnect at picnic

Paula Merritt / The Meridian Star

Guy W. Davis and Larry Jones prepare food for their group at the Meridianites Picnic at Highland Park Saturday afternoon.

Organizations were also on hand at the picnic, such as the Mississippi Children’s Museum- Meridian, which had a tent set complete with a bubble blowing station and a life size tinker toy art exhibit.

The exhibit was for kids and families to “use their imagination and have fun,” said , Claire Massey, the museum’s marketing coordinator.

“We want to come to any event we can in Meridian to spread the word about the museum,” said Massey. “We love for people out of town to come back and see what’s going on.”

Volunteering with the museum was new Meridian resident, Dale Klein, who moved here from Missouri a few weeks ago, finding many new friends.

“I think the people of Meridian are good, down to Earth people,” said Klein.

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