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Maypole

After the event, Pamela Haines removes the braided ribbon from the maypole and gives it to a lucky participant. 2016 file photo. (Click for larger image)

Every May 1 for the last 25 years, you could find Pamela Haines in the shady field across from the North Gate. For a half-hour or so, she would beat a drum and lead children around a maypole to mark May Day in a celebration from another generation.  She’ll do it a final time this year, and unless someone steps up, that will be that – the community’s last maypole.

“I started it when my kids were young, and my friends’ kids were young,” Haines said Sunday. Now, she said, her children and the children of her peers are grown. “I will help as long as I can,” she wrote in a note, “but it is time for me to move on and younger moms take over. It is a simple project, and I can teach a couple of ‘hacks’ I've learned from my mistakes.” 

In a maypole ceremony,  children circle a pole holding ribbons and, in the process, create a multi-colored braid. “It’s just one of those non-technical, traditional things that I treasure,” Haines said.

She said the Kiwanis Club, which has sponsored the event for years in cooperation with the Rancho Murieta Association, has no one to take her place as organizer. She asked the RMA’s Recreation Committee if it was interested in taking it over.

“I got no explanation, just that they voted no,” Haines said of the committee. “The only suggestion that she gave me was that I seek another community service organization, thank you very much.”

Stephanie Bianchi, the RMA’s Recreation Committee chair, said the committee heard Haines’ proposal in March and discussed it and voted on it in April. “There just didn’t seem to be much committee interest,” Bianchi said. “There was no one who was really interested in picking it up and running with it.” The group voted 10-0 to say no, Bianchi said.

For many years it has been a very small event, sometimes with the start delayed to allow time to round up enough children. Two years ago, only five children took part. Last year, there were a dozen.

Haines said for her swan song as organizer she will make 12 May crowns for the first 12 children who show up for this year’s event, which will happen at 5:30 p.m.

Haines said, “I looked up the definition of ‘generation,’ and they say it’s somewhere between 25 and 30 years. So we’ve been doing this for a generation. And maybe it’s time for it to go dormant again. I hope not.”

If you want to keep the maypole going, call Haines at (916) 354-9786.

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