Fort Mill: Good Schools, Good Fun!

Ask anyone from the Carolinas about Fort Mill, and they’re likely to respond with, “nice little town . . . great schools!”

There is truth in numbers: The Fort Mill School District expects 660 additional students to enroll for the 2007-08 academic year, according to a recent news report. The school system is consistently ranked among the best in the state.

That’s largely why Katie O’Brien moved her family to Fort Mill from New York eight years ago. But it’s the small-town feel that makes O’Brien call this place home. “I constantly bump into people I know,” she says, adding that there are tons of opportunities for her kids to get involved in activities.

Housing around Fort Mill is booming. Take Baxter Village as a prime example. This master-planned community includes its own public library, elementary school, urgent care center, hiking trails, YMCA, pools, tennis courts, restaurants and shopping!

Fort Mill is a place where kids can explore Lake Wylie . . . enjoy great fireworks displays not just on the 4th of July, but all summer long . . . and even take breathtaking plunges back and forth across the North and South Carolina state line on a thrilling roller coaster!

Fun Stuff
• Knights Stadium, home of the AAA Charlotte Knights baseball team, has a special kids club, and is a popular spot for birthday parties. Win or lose, at least a dozen games in the summer always end with fireworks.
• Carowinds is much more than thrill rides and a water park. During “education days,” kids can learn about the laws of physics behind those edge-of-your-seat twists and turns. And yes, the “Thunder Road” coaster really does cross the North/South Carolina state line at speeds up to 58 miles an hour!
• The Fort Mill Community Playhouse puts on musicals, a youth production and a dinner theater production each year.

Parks & Recreation
• The Anne Springs Close Greenway is a huge area: 2,300 sprawling acres of forests, lakes and picnic facilities. It also features a dairy barn, nature center and tons of opportunity for exploration and learning.
• You can’t miss the bronze statues in Walter Y. Elisha Park. The park also includes a playground and open grassy areas.
• The Harris Street Park might look small, but it’s actually 10 acres. It includes a picnic area, grills, playground equipment, a basketball court and baseball diamond.
• Steele Street Park is about five acres, and includes many of the same features as Harris Street Park. But kids will love Steele Street Park’s water spray area during the summer!
• Doby Bridge Park features a baseball diamond and playground equipment. Plans for other athletic fields are in the works.

2007 Event Calendar
The Earth Day Celebration will be held April 21 at the Anne Springs Close Greenway, and will feature horseback riding for kids, wagon rides, face painting, a petting zoo, recycling demonstrations, cow milking, bread and butter making, a cow chip throwing contest and bluegrass bands!
Fest-i-Fun is always held the first full weekend in May in downtown Fort Mill. It includes a parade, sporting events, kids’ activities, a car show, art displays and plenty of food.
• Enjoy the BBQ Cookoff & Bluegrass Festival on Sept. 15, also at the Anne Springs Close Greenway. Folks will be able to sample from the area’s best barbecue cooks while listening to regional bluegrass bands.
• The Springmaid Road Race is expected to attract more than 500 runners through the streets of Fort Mill on Nov. 10. Events include a half marathon, a 10K run and a 5K run.

Historical Fun Facts
• The Catawba Indians made their home here for many years.
• In the mid-1700s, Thomas Spratt and his wife Elizabeth were traveling through upper South Carolina in their wagon. They spent a night among the Catawba Indians and were invited to stay and live in the area on a large tract of land given to them. They became the first white settlers in the Fort Mill area and their descendants still live here.
• Jefferson Davis and the Confederate Cabinet passed through the area in their flight for Richmond in 1865.
• The last meeting of the full Confederate Cabinet was held at the White Homestead in Fort Mill.

What’s Next Door?
Distance from Downtown Fort Mill to Neighboring Towns*
Charlotte to Fort Mill = 18.5 miles
Lake Wylie to Fort Mill = 10.5 miles
Tega Cay to Fort Mill = 8.7 miles
Rock Hill to Fort Mill = 8.4 miles
*according to Yahoo! Maps

Books & Games
• Fort Mill Public Library
• Dave’s Comics
• Above Board Games

Ice Cream
Maggie Moo’s
Sweetreats
Si’s Pizzeria

— Source: http://www.fortmillsc.org/OurTown.aspx

Erika Edwards is a Charlotte writer and mom.