Local News

March 8, 2014

‘Maybe it’s time to start smiling again’

Paradise Arabians open doors to spread ‘happiness’

LAFAYETTE — For Sam Hale of Chattanooga, being a dad during Christmas is something he looks forward to each year. Last year, he said, he was able to get each of his two daughters plenty of gifts. The year before? Not so much.

“We had two cars break the week of Thanksgiving,” he said. “We were behind on some credit cards. I’d been between jobs. When Christmas came, we just had to explain that we couldn’t do it. It was the worst moment I’ve ever felt as a dad.”

The economy has been bad to a lot more than just Hale, he said.

The rough impact many locals felt during the recession was one of the reasons why Gary Kenworthy and his wife Wanda opened their doors to their 400-acre farm, called Paradise Arabians, to show off their rare Egyptian Arabian horses Saturday and give free horse shows to the public.

“I moved to Dalton 23 years ago and my husband worked for the Carpet and Rug Institute for many years,” Wanda, co-owner of the farm, said. “And you really just see it. Dalton has been suffering from the economy. Well, today, people poured in on a beautiful sunny day. It was what we needed. Just a little shot of fun in the arm.”

Hale and his daughters Leslie, 6, and Gillian, 11, needed that shot.

“It’s nice to be able to actually get out of the house and do something fun,” he said. “We haven’t had fun like this in a long time. We still struggle financially and to not have to pay anything but gas and food? That’s great.”

“We’ve had a great day!” Leslie screamed with a smile. “Horses!”

Everyone, from young to old, seemed to be having fun if the hundreds of smiling faces during each show counted as evidence. Freddie Jackson, who drove all the way from west Alabama, said “like maybe it’s time to start smiling again.”

“Everyone is so wound up these days,” Jackson, “still spry at 88,” said. “Politics and health care and war and the economy and saving money and spending money. Oh, Lord, it goes on. Especially the young people. They’re so cynical and worried about the future. I went through the Great Depression, buddy. I’ve seen a war. I didn’t fight it, but I lived it.

“The world can be tough. But you just got to keep your head up and go see some horses sometimes. Or go for a drive. Or spend some time with family. Family goes fast. I lost two brothers in five years. Lost my parents long before that, years ago. Imagine what they saw in their lifetime. Lord knows.”

The point?

“You can’t lose sight, especially young people, on happiness and having a good time and being with people you love,” Jackson said. “What’s the point of living if you’re always worried about this or that? God’s got it under control.”

Gary said it’s easy to lose sight of problems around his horses.

“As long as I have been doing this, I am still in awe of them,” he said. “It’s just great to have everyone in the public come out. We’re starting to see signs of improvement in the economy, I think. And I think people are just tired of sitting on their hands. They want to do something. And we couldn’t think of anything better than this. It was a great way to spend the day.”

Wanda agreed.

“This wasn’t a benefit, not for us to sell anything except food and snacks,” she said. “What this was about was just opening the doors and letting people in to see horses and breath some fresh, spring air. And to be happy. Everyone thanked me and hugged me and my family for allowing this. It was a beautiful thing I thought we did. I am happy about it. I think God smiled on Paradise today.”

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