The poles were twice as tall as some of the kids, but that didn’t stop more than 175 children from sitting under Spanish moss casting lines into a south Louisiana lake. It was all part of the East St. Mary Parish, Louisiana, Kiwanis Club’s Free Kid’s Fishing Rodeo Kiwanis One Day Project. Kids came from Morgan City area elementary and junior high schools to try their hand at what club members call southern Louisiana culture.
“It took me back to the days when my ‘Paw Paw’ would bring me fishing on the bayou,” said Kiwanian Cal Carrier. Memories like that helped spur the community as a whole to pitch in and make the project a reality. A chance meeting--at another Kiwanis event--with the local schools assistant superintendent gave Kiwanians the chance to pitch their project in the classrooms. Even Teche Regional Medical Center and the Coast Guard got on board.
“All in all it was a team effort to make the event the success it was,” said organizer Blane Aucoin. He says the club got that support because the project was joining together two things close to peoples’ hearts in South Louisiana: fishing and kids.
To make sure that any South Louisiana child could take part, Kiwanians found fishing poles for any kids who didn’t have their own. What’s more, children who were lucky enough to catch a fish got a raffle ticket for a chance to win a new pole of their own. Kids catching the biggest fish were also awarded trophies. Those trophies, featuring a fish on top, were given to the three best bass, perch and even a category called “trash.”
But kids who didn’t catch a fish still didn’t stay empty-handed for long. Kiwanians were grilling up free hot dogs and drinks to make sure everyone was happy and full. In fact this event required Kiwanians to do some unusual duties. In addition to working the grill, Kiwanians were repairing fishing reels, weighing fish and parking cars.
Key Club members even got involved with the rodeo by, among other things, handing out bait.
What’s more, it wasn’t only the kids who had a good time. The East St. Mary club wanted to ensure that the Fishing Rodeo was an event for the whole family. So every child was required to bring a parent or other guardian with them. That made the day even more special.
“The parents, grandparents and guardians were as excited to be there as were the kids,” said Carrier.
The south Louisiana club says the project was a chance to affect local kids in a way that not only brightened their day but shared a little bit of the area’s heritage and brought parents/grandparents together with their children/grandchildren.
“Through the Fishing Rodeo, the East St. Mary Kiwanis Club lived up to its goal of making a difference in kids’ lives one community at a time,” said Aucoin.