Sometimes we overlook the blessings we have in Marion County and head out to parts unknown for fun. Granted, the county could use some other amusements, I myself want someone nearby to open a miniature golf, putt-putt if you will, venue.

Seems to me if folks are looking for some way to enhance the quality of life, that would do it. Putt-Putt would be a great addition to the area. There could be leagues for all ages and all levels, tournaments, you get the picture.

But I digress.

I want to talk about a morning trip I took to Sparky's with the three grandchildren last July.

My grandchildren live in Florida. That's the vacation capital of the world. How then is it possible for us, Nanna and Papa, living on a farm in the middle of nowhere, with the closest putt-putt course 57 miles away, compete with the likes of Jacksonville?

For Pete's sake, Jacksonville has it all, entertainment wise.

But it doesn't have a Sparky's.

Children are children and anything different and unique, even if its located in Marion, is a treat, when presented as the trophy it is. The trick to taking the children to Sparky's is to plan to move slowly. You cannot do Sparky's in a hurry.

Sparky's is an icon. The grandchildren still talk about that fireworks place with the hermit crabs and ice cream. This store’s wonderful combination of “things” is a salve for all those jaded by living the good life too routinely.

It's important to note that for a trip to Sparky's to be a success, you have to plan to creep, dally, dawdle, diddle, dillydally, drag, lag, linger, and loiter.

The longer you stroll through the souvenir and novelty shop, the more you'll see. And the more the children see, the more they want. So the second thing necessary for a trip to Sparky’s to be a success is to have a little discretionary funding.

Plan on eating. The fast food fare is excellent. The ice cream among the best. Just sit back, enjoy the banter of children, people watch the others passing through, and enjoy the moment.

Of course, among all the other offerings of jewelry and swords and shows and shirts and shells, there are fireworks. After all, that’s what we really went shopping for. We had never seen what a “ladybug” could do until last year. We’ll be back this year to get more.

One thing South Carolina has that Florida doesn’t, besides this Nanna and Papa, is the ability to purchase and shoot fireworks – at will.

We can have a fireworks show any night the grandchildren are here. We celebrate the end of school, the Fourth of July, and even the latest loose tooth with fireworks.

One grandson has managed to keep one Hermit crab alive that we purchased last summer. Maybe that’s something we’ll celebrate this year when the grandchildren come to visit.