Saturday’s rain failed to dampen the spirits of organizers or participants in the Tri-City Elks sixth annual Kids Fishing Derby held at Lodge 14’s self-named “Golden Pond” located behind the non-profit’s spacious facility off West Shore Road in Warwick.
One reason, in particular, is that Griff Williams, the event’s fun-loving and only chairman, said “I love fishing” and “I love making kids happy” and he wasn’t about to let a little rain ruin the day for kids age 5 to 8 and 9 to 12 who wore a variety of colorful wet-weather garb while casting their lines, with a little assist from their proud parents and, in some cases, grandparents.
Although Saturday’s derby was cut short by 90 minutes after a mid-morning burst of driving rain, the fish were as plentiful as the trophies and treats Lodge 14 provided for upwards of two dozen kids.
In the end, it was Maya O’Connell, 7, who reeled in the day’s biggest fish, a one-pound, one-ounce trout that was just one of 200 fish the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM) stocked in “Golden Pond” especially for Saturday’s Derby.
O’Connell, who at first fished with her grandfather and Lodge 14 member Frank Knight, then her father Bill O’Connell, had no problem reeling in a couple of fish but wanted no part of holding her prize catch for a photo.
It wasn’t actually announced as to how many trout the kids caught Saturday, but Doug Peluso, a North Scituate resident and William’s son-in-law who had the honor of serving as official weigh master Saturday, needed the assistance of Tony Stackhouse to take the entire morning’s catch out of large buckets to be weighed in.
And, as Lodge 14 Treasurer Lori Eaton, who spent much of her morning making hot coffee and hot chocolate for young and old alike said, “fishing here [and counting trout] will continue once word spreads throughout the neighborhood that the pond was stocked with trout.”
While O’Connell took home a new rod-and-reel that was donated by Dick’s Sporting Goods of Smithfield for the youngster who caught the largest fish, everyone, Williams wanted it known, “is a winner here today.”
Once the youngsters finished fishing, they were treated to a “second round” of food and drink, as Lodge 14 continued its ongoing pledge to do as much as possible for the children in the community.
The sixth annual Kids Fishing Derby began with hot chocolate and donuts and wound up with hot dogs, potato chips and soda and an awards presentation that featured every kid that entered receiving a spiffy trophy.