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FEATURE ARTICLE yankton’s hot spot By Katelyn Schramm, Guest Writer Experience Yankton’s own “Town Square” at the meridian bridge Plaza and the newly reconstructed walnut street. When I travel, I like to experience the location as if I lived there. I stay away from traditional tourist attractions in favor of a location that looks and feels like a local hangout. I strike up conversation with the people gathered there and ask about the best local food, any secret hiking trails, good places to people watch, and whether there are any local events happening during my stay. The conversations are usually rich with “behind the scenes” information. I learn about the new tennis courts or the recordsetting football team. I hear stories about a local floral shop owner whose family has had the store for 100+ years. Sometimes, I find out more than I ever wanted to know, but I make connections and form bonds that you can only get through true human to human contact. This local hangout area I am describing is something that people around the world have recognized and valued for centuries- the concept of a town square, a gathering place within the city. Those of you from towns lucky enough to have this space can picture it immediately. If you are visiting Yankton and want to test my strategy, make your way to Meridian Bridge Plaza on Walnut and 2nd Street. When the weather cooperates (and sometimes even when it doesn’t), this is a place that is 26 | Yankton Visitors Guide | www.VisitYanktonSD.com overflowing with local vibes and plenty of views for visitors. Recently reimagined landscaping that spans Walnut Street within the Meridian District whisks you away. The pots of beautiful butterfly-attracting plants, flowing native grasses in beds of mulch, and uplit trees that turn the night into magic, make for a very inviting, safe, and comfortable place to gather. On one corner is the Cheryl Sommer Memorial Fire Feature, named after a long-time board member for the local non-profit, Keep Yankton Beautiful. The flames create a cozy place to sit and chat when the air is crisp, and offers a unique ambience on hot summer nights. The benches beg for groups of people to gather, watch the fire, and converse. Across 2nd Street from the fire feature, towards the Missouri River, is a water fountain and splash pad. It runs from the warmer days of Spring until the cool days of Fall, and the splash pad is available for any and all that want to activate the water and run on in! Children, dogs, and even some adults, run, laugh, and splash in this space for hours. It’s an idyllic reminder of the simple joys in life. From the official area claimed by Meridian Bridge Plaza, one cannot help but look toward the majestic national park, the Missouri National