Families celebrate Father’s Day at Spring Grove’s Hatchery Park

Anthony Pace wears a shirt with his daughter Blake Pace's, 2, of Pingree Grove face on it at a Father's Day event June 16, 2024 at Hatchery Park in Spring Grove.

Fishing was the theme at a Father’s Day celebration Sunday morning at Spring Grove’s Hatchery Park.

Fathers and families enjoyed fishing in the ponds at the park before moving on to other festivities, such as storytime with Jim May and a variety of fish-themed snacks.

The fishing event was the first of its kind. Ashley Britt of Spring Grove, who helped organize the event, said it was a tradition for her family to go to Hatchery Park to fish on Father’s Day.

“We were trying to think of ways to get people engaged,” Britt said.

Britt added she hadn’t seen any crying children and saw lots of fish being caught. Hatchery Park is a catch-and-release park.

The fishing extravaganza doubled as a fundraiser for the Friends of Hatchery Park, a group seeking to raise funds to install accessible public bathrooms at the park. Portable toilets were available for Sunday’s participants. “It’s expensive,” Britt said about adding bathrooms.

Britt said she had talked to people Sunday who hadn’t heard of Hatchery Park, adding the park is hard to find and it’s a “hidden gem.”

Eric Motyka of Spring Grove took his son Memphis fishing for the first time Sunday. He said they had caught sunfish, but the family didn’t seem to be catching any fish around 11:30 a.m. Sunday.

“Some days you catch them, some days you don’t,” Eric Motyka said.

Nearby, Josh Sweet of Spring Grove and his daughter Nevaeh hadn’t caught any fish. Sweet said they were spending more time putting worms on hooks than fishing. When asked if the family would make Father’s Day fishing a tradition, Sweet said, “not if we don’t catch fish.”

Besides fishing, other events included a nature walk and storyteller Jim May.

Trevor Johnson of Spring Grove attended the storytelling with his family and said it was “fantastic.” By the time storytelling wrapped up about 11:30 a.m., people had gathered in a tent set up for storytelling that provided shade from the increasing heat. Johnson added his kids had heard May’s storytelling at school, where there’s normally hundreds of people listening.

The fishing had also been going well, and Johnson said they had caught “a ton of bluegills.”

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