LIMA — Undaunted by the heat advisory Wednesday afternoon, children of all ages grabbed a cane fishing pole and bait to participate in the annual Freedom Fishing Derby during the 25th annual Star Spangled Spectacular.
“We’re working with the Ohio Department of Natural Resources to teach kids about fishing,” said Randy Kohli, head park ranger with the City of Lima’s Parks, Recreation and Forestry Division. “We’re teaching them to tie knots, how to put hooks on, how to string their lines and take care of things in that manner so they can have a fun experience fishing.”
Children as young as 4 years old to 17 and 18 years of age participated in the fishing derby, Kohli said. Some adults even joined in. The derby, sponsored by the Lima Eagles Lodge 370, was held at a lake down the hill from the splash pad at Faurot Park.
The event was catch and release. With all of the events going on throughout the day and fireworks planned for 10 p.m., Kohli said park rangers didn’t think people should be carrying dead fish around with them through the evening. The Lima Eagles stocked the lake with large and small bluegill before the derby.
“I haven’t done it (fished) before,” said 11-year-old Elijah Soles, as he sat on the bridge crossing the small lake, his legs dangling over the side as he watched the bobber for signs of a fish taking the bait. “It’s probably something I’ll continue to do after today.”
Soles said he liked the patience necessary to catch fish and the excitement of catching them.
Brian Oakman and his daughter Caitlyn, 14, have been fishing together since he taught her how when she was around 3 years old, he said. Participating in the fishing derby at Star Spangled Spectacular is an Independence Day tradition for them.
“I just like catching them,” Caitlyn Oakman said as she pulled a struggling bluegill from the lake. The fish splashed her in the face with water and fish slime, which she promptly wiped off.
After the children were finished fishing, the rangers gave them a free fishing pole and bobber to encourage them to continue with the activity.
A cooling-off tent with high-powered fans and water hoses was set up across the road from the Faurot Park Pavilion for attendees, and their pets, to take a moment and get some relief from the heat.
Children’s rides and activities, such as a Ferris wheel, bounce house and slow-moving rides for small children, were set up near the baseball diamond at North Shore Drive, along with a few food vendors selling lemonade and fair staples like funnel cakes. The free rides were active for nearly six hours in the afternoon.
Some children also participated in the Freedom Fun Ride or the Freedom Fun Run/Walk earlier in the day.
Reach Bryan Reynolds at 567-242-0362.