Though the faces behind the poles have changed over the years, the Annual Leon Plochocki Fishing Derby marked its 21st year Saturday May 30 as a free, fun, family-oriented tradition at Marcellus Park.
Organized by the Marcellus Optimist Club, the derby was first conceived by Leon Plochocki in 1989. Plochocki, a lifelong fisherman, said he had three main goals to achieve when he suggested the first derby: to provide a chance for kids to develop what could become a lifelong habit that they could enjoy with family and friends at little or no cost; to provide an activity for the entire family to enjoy at no cost; and to offer a good bonding experience for the community. One of the key factors for Plochocki was keeping the event free, so poles, bait, tackle, prizes and food are provided to all participants at no cost through sponsorship and donations.
"This is a good example of the community working together to have a fun-filled activity for the whole family," Plochocki said.
This year, the weather held out and around 150 children dropped their lines into Ninemile Creek Saturday morning. The derby is open to all Marcellus Central School District students in eighth grade or younger and a guest, and each child must be accompanied by an adult.
Plochocki said the rule that each child must be accompanied by an adult helps to include more members of the community and create that bonding experience.
Emphasizing the community focus are the many local organizations who help sponsor the event, including Nojaims, The Chocolate Pizza Company, Wayfarer Company, video store, the Marcellus Legion, and Carpenter's Brook Fish Hatchery, which donates about 300 fish each year for the derby.