One of the most enticing annual events in our area is the Russell H Gilbert Kids Free Fishing Day in White Cloud held each June.
This fishing phenomenon was started by its namesake, the former mayor of that fair city, who wanted to give area kids a day of fun and festivities complete with prizes for the youthful anglers. It is truly a magical time as scores of kids toss their lines into the water at the anointed time and pull out everything from one of the stocked and tagged trout to frogs, minnows, turtles and on one memorable occasion, a mailbox. There are prizes, giveaways, other activities and donuts. Good donuts.
This would have been the 38th year the family and friends of the late Mr. Gilbert would see the culmination of a year’s worth of fundraising come to fruition at the Mill Pond site. But as many local, regional, state and national events have gone, so goes Kids Free Fishing Day.Organizers were forced to pull the plug due to concerns raised by the ongoing pandemic.
“It is with sad hearts that we have no choice but to cancel KFFD for 2020 because of COVID-19,” said Diane Patrick, one of Mayor Gilbert’s daughters. “However we are super excited for 2021 and hope to make it the best ever.”
The event has always been supported through local fundraisers and is unconnected with any other organization which is impressive in itself. KFFD has also proven itself to be an amazingly well organized affair as evidenced by their ability to keep the droves of kids with poles following the guidelines.
As a media person who has covered countless festivals, events and activities KFFD is one that never fails to put a smile on my face. There are so many stories going on all at once in a most pleasing cavalcade of charm and kid inspired chaos. One of my first experiences there was shared with my eldest grandson Quintan who was three years old at the time. While managing to cobble together a story and snap a few photos we spent a fair amount of time untangling fish line since a 3 year old sometimes struggles with patience and the concept of allowing a bobber to remain in place.
Despite the extensive linework and the container of worms that tumbled their way into the pond, that particular year remains my favorite of all.
And now the 3 year old is about to become a senior in high school.
I am certain my recollection of that day is replicated in many manifestations and hold a special place in the memory banks of hundreds of parents, grandparents, aunts uncles guardians and others who have ever accompanied a young angler to this piscatorial party. It is truly an event that inspires fond reminiscence for all involved.
This is the ultimate in family fun and with many fundraising activities put on hold or postponed organizers will be looking at ways to support the belated episode 38 of the KFFD story coming next spring.
Want to help? Check out their facebook page for a few of their current initiatives.
5/18/2020 12:16:43 am
I don't understand why really. Cancel all outdoor events but open enclosed stores. I'm still tempted to go down there next month, fish and have a picnic. Can't wait until next year. My kids loved it last year.
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