By Justin Prince
Note: This story was originally published on OurWindsor.ca.
Hundreds of children from across Windsor-Essex County were working hard to get a big catch to try and win a youth fishing derby Sunday morning.
More than 250 young residents and their families from across the region flocked to Windsor’s waterfront to compete in this year’s Kids, Cops and Canadian Tire Fishing Derby at Assumption Park. Each participant was competing to win one of four main prizes of $250 each as well as their own bike. They were also given a new fishing rod and reel for taking part. Overall, the Windsor Police Association-run event gave out about $35,000 in equipment and prizes during the day.
“It’s extremely important (to hold something like this),” said Windsor Police Service Const. Sean Patterson, who has helped organize the derby since 2009. “Our children of our local community are our future. The big thing is we want to introduce them to the environment and being able to experience this and not just be at home on their tablets or phones or video games. We want them to be outside enjoying the environment.”
Nationally, the non-profit organization Fishing Forever has been holding local competitions each year since 2003. The festivities are held in more than 70 locations across Canada, including an earlier event that was held at Dieppe and Reaume Parks last month.
“I love to create opportunities for children and families to go fishing,” said Fishing Forever chair and TV show host Bob Izumi in a written statement. “Fishing is one of the very best ways for parents and other adults to establish productive and healthy relationships with children.”
Patterson agreed. He said the fishing derby is held on Father’s Day each year, not only as a way to try and make it a staple event for the community, but also to help create memories for the local youth.
“I find that it’s a very special derby because they’re able to be out with their father on such a wonderful day that is Father’s Day,” said Patterson. “They’re being able to form bonds with their dads doing something that’s a lot of fun.”
Dan Merlo, a member of the WPS, was one of those fathers. After finding out about the event last year through the Windsor Police Association, he and his wife decided to take their son Cody to the Sunday event. And since two-year-olds aren't exactly known for their patience and attention span, Merlo says he plans to keep coming as he and his other child grow older.
“We’re going to make this a tradition,” said Merlo. “It’s extremely important for making memories. The kids love it and it’s something hopefully they’ll look forward to as they get older.”
The next local event will take place at Lakeview Park in Belle River on July 24, 2016. Stay tuned for further event details.