By Paula @ Holiday World

Those pretty flowers throughout Holiday World & Splashin’ Safari?

We have Frieda to thank.

And today’s her birthday.

She’s 95.

Frieda Foertsch

Frieda has worked in just about every department over the years. Front gate, food services, the Betsy Ross Doll Museum.

Since she “retired,” she’s been in charge of our greenhouse.

Our “plant manager,” if you happen to like puns.

She was interviewed for a newspaper article a number of years ago. I just loved her proud statement: There’s not a rocking chair that’s been built that would hold me!

My favorite Frieda story is from 1993, the year she turned 83.

That was the year Splashin’ Safari opened.

A local senior citizens group called in the early spring and asked for a “sneak peek” for their members. The water park wouldn’t be open for another few months, but they were curious. Plus it was lovely weather for a heart-healthy walk-about.

We started out from the front gate and strolled down to the entrance to Splashin’ Safari. From there, we could see the nearly-completed water park. (The first year, the water attractions included the AmaZOOM, Bamboo Chute, Congo River and Crocodile Isle.)

Then we circled back up through the 4th of July section.

As we walked by the Avenue of Flags, past what is now The Alamo (I think it was Tank Tag back then), the grumbles started.

“How much farther?”

“Can’t we sit down somewhere?”

“Young lady, you really need to provide transportation for these tours!”

These tours? Silly me, I thought I was doing them a favor…

Suddenly, everything changed in the blink of an eye.

Or, rather, the slam of a hoe.

We couldn’t see her yet, but we sure could hear Frieda.

She was up the hill, by the bumper boats.

There was a clump of stubborn weeds underneath the weeping willow.

And Frieda was determined to win the battle of wills … or rather, roots.

I kid you not! As we crested the hill there was Frieda, hard at work. Swinging that old hoe over her head and slamming it down into the roots.

Not little refined nudges to move the weeds. Big, huge, vigorous, full-body chops.

The senior group came alive

They called out to each other and hurried up the hill en masse.

They eagerly surrounded Frieda and talked about flowers and trees with great animation.

The tour was a success. (No thanks to me.)

Many happy returns, Frieda!
(Sadly, Frieda passed away in 2011. She lived to be 100 and will forever be remembered here.)
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