a little girl standing at a podium with a microphone
Journey Nichols delivers her speech to the Marathon City Council on May 14. ALEX RICKERT/Keys Weekly

Universal rounds of applause are a rare feat in government meetings. But when 9-year-old Journey Nichols took matters into her own hands to address the Marathon City Council and advocate for the children of her community, that’s exactly what she got.

By far the most popular public commenter at the council’s May 14 session, Nichols stepped to the podium to respectfully voice her concern: the height of the water fountain at Children’s Rotary Park.

“The water fountain at Rotary Park is too high for little kids, and there also isn’t a refillable water station to refill our water bottles after playing,” she told the council. “I have a picture of my brothers trying to get water, and they simply can’t reach, and they are 7 years old.

“All kids deserve to stay hydrated. It would be appreciated if the city would lower the fountain, and put in a refillable water station.”

“No problem,” Parks and Recreation Director Paul Davis told Nichols. “We will get a refillable water fountain, and we’ll make sure it’s at the proper height – 36 inches, so you can have access to water. We’ll take care of that as soon as we can.”

a little girl standing in front of a water fountain giving a thumbs up
Nine-year-old Journey Nichols sets the record straight on water fountain heights: 36 inches is great for kids. ALEX RICKERT/Keys Weekly
Alex Rickert
Alex Rickert made the perfectly natural career progression from dolphin trainer to newspaper editor in 2021 after freelancing for Keys Weekly while working full time at Dolphin Research Center. A resident of Marathon since 2015, he fell in love with the Florida Keys community by helping multiple organizations and friends rebuild in the wake of Hurricane Irma. An avid runner, actor, and spearfisherman, he spends as much of his time outside of work on or under the sea having civil disagreements with sharks.