It all started with a simple idea of a local police chief wanting to take kids fishing. Soon after, it became clear that “Cops and Bobbers” was going to be much more than that.
On June 14, nearly 2000 people including more than 765 kids stormed the shores of Michael J. Kirwan Reservoir with a free fishing rod in one hand and donated bait in the other. Catfish, blue gill, large-mouth bass and even walleye were some of the quarry plucked from the water by kids, some for the first time in their life. Smiles abounded throughout the day as kids participated in games, activities, and attended learning stations about fishing. Bobber the Water Safety Dog was the main focus of pictures taken with kids and everyone enjoyed the free hot dogs, hamburgers and ice cream.
Upon registration, kids received a grab bag full of water safety materials, hooks, bobbers and fish ID stickers. If they didn’t have a fishing pole of their own, one of the 700 donated poles were given to them to keep. The tremendous success of the event was achieved through numerous partnerships and a phenomenal amount of donations.
Fifty volunteers came out and gave their time to help register, cook, run learning stations and everything else needed for a smooth event. Donations for the event poured in from local community vendors and came from states as far away as California and West Virginia and other countries to include the Netherlands and Australia. The event was covered by three area newspapers, a remote feed from WEWS News Channel 5 in Cleveland and filmed by the Outdoor Option for their cable television show.
Due to copyright reasons and the number of agencies involved, next year’s name will be changed to “Badges and Bobbers.”
Some of the participating agencies included USACE, West Branch State Park, Ohio Division of State Parks, Ohio Division of Watercraft, Ohio Division of Wildlife, Portage County Sheriff’s Department Marine Patrol, Portage County Rescue Dive Team, Edinburg, Charlestown and Paris Townships Fire Departments, Brimfield Police, police officers from 32 different departments, the Chief Oliver Foundation, Kames Sports, Destination Outdoors, The Outdoor Option, Deerasic Park Archery, U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary, Ravenna Marine and many more.
John J. Kolodziejski, acting Northern Area Operations manager, said, “Park Ranger Julie Stone was instrumental in steering this event to our Corps Lake when other venues were being considered. Additionally, she played a key role in the logistics and planning of this first annual program.”
Plans are currently underway for “Badges and Bobbers 2015”. https://www.facebook.com/badgesandbobbers