When Dave Parker entered Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park Tuesday night, he accomplished his lifelong dream to visit the 59 iconic national parks in the U.S.
“To see Kilauea erupt is indescribable and it’s just spectacular to see,” Parker said. “It’s the reason we came here,” he said.
On Wednesday, Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park surprised Parker with a “59ers” Certificate of Achievement, signed by National Park Service Acting Director, Mike Reynolds. The certificate was presented by Acting Superintendent and Chief Ranger John Broward, who congratulated Parker in front of visitors and staff at the Kīlauea Visitor Center.
“It’s uplifting that Mr. Parker made it a priority to see all 59 of the iconic national parks,” Broward said. “Park visitors help steward our public lands, and by appreciating them, they protect them. And Dave Parker, you couldn’t have a better last name,” he said.
Parker’s love for national parks blossomed at the tender age of 14, when his parents took him to his first parks, Yellowstone and Grand Teton. His family camped, rode horses, hiked the trails and watched Yellowstone’s famous geyser, Old Faithful, erupt. Now 77, Parker, his wife Carol, and friends Red and Sheri Cavaney, will spend a few nights at Volcano House and explore the eruptions of Kīlauea and Mauna Loa. They enjoyed a ranger talk about the volcanic origins of the Hawaiian Islands, and a guided tour with the Friends of Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park.
The park’s non-profit supporting partners, the FHVNP and the Hawai‘i Pacific Parks Association, presented the Parkers and friends with commemorative items including ball caps, T shirts, pins, a gift certificate for The Rim restaurant, and other mementos and educational items to help them enjoy and discover the park.
“There are many ways to support your parks,” Parker said. “All parks have organizations that support them that you can donate to. You can volunteer and give back with your time. It’s an important investment to make for the survival of public lands and our future generations,” he said.
The auspicious visit was Parker’s fifth time to Hawai‘i, and his first to Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park. During his early career working for the Dept. of Commerce in Wash., D.C., he helped promote travel to the U.S., and had close ties to the Hawai‘i visitor industry. He and his wife live in McLean, VA.