COLUMBIA — Six-year-old Adam Deters smiled and shrieked as his brother Brendan, 10, pulled his fishing line out of the water at Philips Park Lake. Adam, who had just caught a fish of his own moments earlier, could hardly contain his excitement as Brendan hauled in his first fish of the day.
“Brendan caught a bluegill!” he yelled.
It seemed as though the Deters family had found the spot where the fish were biting, and they weren’t going anywhere. Adam and Brendan, along with their father, Joe, stood their ground on the edge of the lake. For Joe Deters, seeing his sons having fun outdoors was a pleasant change of pace.
“My kids are playing their (Nintendo) DS’s and their Wii way too much,” Joe Deters said. “So if we can drag their butts outside, it’s a nice change.”
This was the sentiment echoed by many of the families participating in Saturday’s fishing derby at Philips Park Lake. The two-hour event, which accompanied the dedication of the new park, gave both children and adults the chance to engage in some friendly competition. Winners were recognized for being the first person to catch a fish, reeling in the biggest fish and even for catching the smallest fish.
Like Joe Deters, Nathan Stephens was thrilled about the opportunity to spend time outdoors with his 9-year-old son Nathan Jr.
Stephens, who works as a senior coordinator at MU’s Black Culture Center, was bothered by the fact that his son spends his free time playing video games and watching cartoons instead of playing outside. He saw the fishing derby as an opportunity to expose his son to outdoor activity.
“I think initially (for Nathan Jr.) it was more like ‘I want to accommodate my dad and spend this time with him,' but after he caught the first fish I think he got the fishing bug,” Stephens said. “He wanted me to check his line and he would say ‘Is the bobber moving or is it just the waves?’ He got really involved and that was good to see.”
The dedication ceremony and fishing derby served as an opportunity to recognize the successful development of Philips Park, particularly the area surrounding the 40-acre lake. Participants in the derby took notice and genuinely appreciated the park.
“That’s an incredible plus for the city of Columbia to have a small fishing place where you can go and it’s relatively easy to access,” Stephens said. “So definitely kudos to the City of Columbia and their Parks and Recreation Department for that.”
Eric McDonell, who often goes fishing with his family, said that both he and his 10-year-old son Grant were impressed with the lake as well.
“It’s nice. (Grant) didn’t realize how big the lake was until we got out here and he goes ‘This is a very nice size,’" McDonell said. “I think it’ll be very popular.”
Mayor Bob McDavid shared in his constituents’ enthusiasm about the newly dedicated park. During his remarks at the dedication ceremony, McDavid talked about the park’s place in his vision for the city’s future.
“This is a great day,” McDavid said. “It’s a celebration of the vision Columbia has for the future to make this a great place to live.”