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170 catch Fishin' Frenzy

June 20, 2004|By ALICIA NOTARIANNI

"Mommy, please, can I keep him forever?" beamed Summerhope Gray, 3, of Hagerstown.

On her lap lolled a rainbow trout that she just had reeled in from the pond at Pangborn Park.

Summerhope was one of more than 170 registered participants in Saturday's Fishin' Frenzy, an event for children under 12, senior citizens and people with disabilities. MIHI (Many Individuals Helping Individuals), a group that promotes accessibility for people of all abilities, sponsored the fourth annual event.

N. Linn Hendershot, chairman of the board of directors for MIHI, said one goal of the group is to make recreation more accessible. Members of the group were trying to come up with a community project and it seemed fishing was something just about everyone could do, Hendershot said.

Hendershot said the Maryland Department of Natural Resources provided around 600 rainbow trout from the Albert Powell Hatchery for the event.

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In addition to sponsoring the contest, MIHI has opened the possibility of fishing to more people in the area by building accessible piers over Antietam Creek at Devil's Backbone County Park

Bill Beard, executive director of MIHI, said whether people walk or use a wheelchair, "we want to get people up to the water's edge."

Eubert Burgess, 74, and his friend Gerald Bowman, 83, both of Smithsburg, said they fish together a lot and decided to check out Fishin' Frenzy. Burgess pulled in one fish and Bowmen caught nothing.

"Bad luck," Bowman said.

Looking on the bright side, Burgess said, "A lot of kids are catching 'em. It's a pretty nice set up."

Mary Gray, 40, Summerhope's mother, agreed.

"It's safe for kids to fish here, and if they get bored they can go play at the park for a while," she said.

Christine Bell, 10, of Williamsport, may have had the most exciting catch of the day. Jim Wollard, who took his three children as well as their friend, Bell, to the event, said Bell got a bite so strong it pulled her rod into the water.

"We pulled in her rod with another rod, and then up come a mud catfish and she reeled it in," Wollard said. "People were looking like they couldn't believe it."

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