Some of us are so lucky enough to experience a friendship in life that doesn't happen to a lot of folks, yet when it does it is hard to explain why. This friendship happened to me about 10 years ago, knew of this man for a lot of years but I never got to speak to him one on one. I always felt that because of his place in life and his lifestyle, that I wasn't meant to associate with him. How wrong I was!!

   When I went before the Village Board, in the year 2000, to get approval to develop the Mackay Wildlife Preserve, he was sitting in the crowd on another unrelated matter. After the meeting, he came up to me and asked if he and his wife, could go on the walk-thru of the proposed park that the Village Board and I were going to take. I would have never thought that this man would consider such a thing?

   The day came and sure enough he and his wife were there to go for a walk in the woods. After hearing what I wanted to do he said to me, and I never forgot it, he said that he hoped that he lived long enough to see this happen. Now this was a man that just got out of the hospital with a heart issue and was in the process of building a new home just down the street from the proposed park. That was all that I needed to hear. I told myself that he was going to see it happen.

   The day after I received the "ok" from the Village Board, I started to blaze my way into the 26 acres that was going to be Caledonia's Park. Guess who was right along side me; yep it was the man that was going to be "The Brother I Never Had and The Friend That Every One Should Have Had." Together we built the park and dressed it up. I came up with a lot of ideas, but most of them didn't get past the Alhart planning board. We would do a lot of bickering on how things were to be but we always came to a mutual agreement.

   His health started to fail him and his experience on this earth was getting short. Our daily walks in the park were all but done now and if I wanted to see him I had to go to his home. He often said how he missed the walks and talks that we shared together. He taught me so much about Caledonia and the folks that live here.

   I had often wondered why I was given the job of creating the Mackay Park, but I now know, Neil Alhart's friendship was that reason.

   I will miss you my brother! See you on the next trail!

   God Bless