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Kids Fishing Derby reels in Mt. Pleasant community

Local NewsKids Fishing Derby reels in Mt. Pleasant community

Over 60 children took part in the second annual Community Kids Fishing Derby at the Mt. Pleasant Nature Park on Saturday, June 8, 2024.

Twelve-year-old fishing enthusiast, Chris Cole, has been selling dew worms from his Mt. Pleasant home for the past six years and since then, the youngster has become dedicated to sharing his passion for the sport of angling.

Chris Cole, 12, shows off one of the many prizes up for grabs during the second annual Kids Fishing Derby at the Mt. Pleasant Nature Park on Saturday, June 8, 2024.

In June of 2023, Cole hosted a kid’s fishing derby so that children in his community could learn how to fish, spend time with their family and friends, enjoy a free barbeque and win prizes.

After 125 children turned up for the inaugural event, Cole was already taking notes on how to improve this year’s derby.

“Last year we had the barbecue right outside of the pavilion but because of the sheer amount of people that were here trying to get their prizes, I noticed it got a little too crowded,” he said. “This year we’ve moved it over quite a bit so that it will be a lot less packed in the pavilion when they come up to get their prize now.”

Parents and children lined the banks of pond one during the second annual Kids Fishing Derby at the Mt. Pleasant Nature Park on Saturday, June 8, 2024.

His mom, Tanya Cole, said that she’s proud to see her son take initiative in the event.

“The vision is all his, he planned everything from picking the worms for bait to where the tables were going today,” she said. “He asks for sponsorships from all of the companies, he reaches out to them and communicates with them the whole time and he goes to the fishing store and makes the deals for all these great prizes. He’s heavily involved with everything and it’s just amazing.”

Brothers, Daniel VanRavenswaay, 4-years-old, and Nathan VanRavenswaay, seven-years-old, maintain their concentration during the second annual Kids Fishing Derby at the Mt. Pleasant Nature Park on Saturday, June 8, 2024.

Cole said that his whole idea behind the event was really to share his love of fishing and to get kids to try something new.

“It’s always fun to be outdoors in nature and experience that feeling when you catch a fish, especially if you’ve been waiting for a long time to catch one,” he said.

Throughout the event, families lined up along the banks of the park’s three ponds for the children to cast their lines. Each time a fish was caught, volunteers would mark a tally for the excited child who caught it.

One youngster practices his fishing skills at the casting pond during the second annual Kids Fishing Derby at the Mt. Pleasant Nature Park on Saturday, June 8, 2024.

For those who had never fished before, a kid’s casting pond was set up where children could learn to aim and cast before heading out to try to fish on their own further down the way.

As the fishing came to an end and prize winners were waiting to be announced, attendees indulged in a free lunch of hot dogs and fries cooked by the volunteer fire department or explored the on-site fire truck.

Seven-year-old Nathan VanRavenswaay, proudly shows off his third fish of the day during the second annual Kids Fishing Derby at the Mt. Pleasant Nature Park on Saturday, June 8, 2024.

While there were grand prizes for biggest fish and for most fish caught, at the end of the event, each child left with some type of prize be it a fishing rod, tacklebox, t-shirt or other various fishing supplies. Tanya said they couldn’t do it without all of their volunteers and sponsors.

“Callaway Water Supply and the Mt. Pleasant Firefighters are both out here volunteering for us today which is awesome, we also had the Optimist club donate all the french fries and hot dogs for our free lunch. As far as our sponsors go, Angling Outfitters in Woodstock has been incredible because not only do they give us sponsorship money, but we go there for the prizes and he gives us some really great deals,” she said. “We also have some other wonderful sponsors supporting us this year like Volt Multitrade, Small Engine Repair, Grand Electrical Solutions, Adam Marshall, Printmate Graphics Ltd. and Mo Ze On In Heavy Truck Trailer and Automotive Repair; They all help out and are a huge support because they just love to see kids get involved in fishing and that’s what this is all about.”

Several youngsters fish off the bank of pond two during the second annual Kids Fishing Derby at the Mt. Pleasant Nature Park on Saturday, June 8, 2024.

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