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Lake Wales
Friday, April 12, 2024

These Lake Wales Firefighters Treated Local Kindergarteners to a Fishing Trip


by James Coulter

Some days you want to skip school or work to go to the lake and fish. Several firefighters and schoolchildren in Lake Wales were able to do just that with the Fishing with Firemen event on Tuesday.

Lake Wales Firefighters treated kindergarteners from Hillcrest Elementary to a special fishing trip at Lake Crystal Park. Students were able to cast lures at the lake with local firefighters and EMTs and even catch a few big ones. Kindergarten classes took turns fishing while others played in the park and enjoyed shaved ice from the Kona Ice Truck.

Robert Conover, a firefighter and EMT with the Lake Wales Fire Department, has been participating in the annual event for the past two years. While he did not cast any lures, he did help his fellow firefighters bait their lines. Being able to see all the smiling faces of the students was reward enough for him.

“Coming out here has been a good time to just get out here with the kids to show you who you are so they are not scared [if you visit their house on an emergency call],” he said. “All the smiles on their faces have made a difference. Everyone is happy. It is a good day clear skies, almost clear skies.”

Dominic Matute, another firefighter and EMT, participated for the first time this year. He was unable to attend last year, so being able to participate this year was an honor.

“We do it annually every year,” he said. “It is something we firefighters look forward to doing with the community, which is giving back as usual…I caught two fish already. I love spending time with the community, helping people around, teaching kids, and fishing. I am looking forward to doing it next year.”

Hillcrest Elementary hosts the Fishing With Firemen annually to treat their students at the end of the school year while also helping local firefighters gain repertoire with the community.

Within the past month, the school has been teaching students about the ocean. Being able to allow them to get to the water and fish proved to be a special treat for their curriculum, even though they had to settle for a lake rather than the ocean, explained Carrie Starnes, kindergarten teacher and event co-chair.

“It has remained successful because of the community involvement with the parents,” she said. “I think it is nice. The weather is gorgeous. It has not been hot as it has been. But I think they are enjoying having a good time.”

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