Fishing Derby Deemed ‘Great Success’ for Veterans and friends [Opinion]

Some 350 participants joined the fun at Lake Cahuilla Regional Veterans Park for the Inaugural Fishing Derby, which prompted organizers and participants to deem it a great success.

As contestants poured into the park they registered with volunteers from the American Legion Post in Indio and were quick to head out to fishing spots they had chosen around the lake.

Children from 5 years old and Veterans as old as 76 years old showed up to fish or to support family and friends that were trying to catch the longest fish.

Kyla Brown, the parks director, had the lake stocked with 1,500 pounds of catfish just a few days earlier just to ensure anglers caught plenty of fish.

The winners were selected by volunteers from the Navy League of Palm Springs. Participants landed some large fish and winners walked away with lots of prizes.

Five children who entered the contest rode away on bicycles provided as a gift from V. Manuel Perez, the County Supervisor who helped arrange the derby with members of his Veterans Cabinet.

Fishing Derby Deemed 'Great Success'

Indio American Legion accepts $750 check.

Indio American Legion members turned out in force and were the benefactors of a large cash donation and will also receive a portion of food truck sales from two vendors.

The Air Force Association of Palm Springs also presented the new U.S. Space Force flag to Supervisor Perez to kick off the prize ceremonies at noon.

The regional park is the only county park that is named to honor Veterans and our military. The county will be adding another flag pole to its monument so the Space Force flag will also be flown at the park.

Each member of the Fourth District Veterans Cabinet was on hand to assist in prize presentations. Derby winners received fishing gear from Yellowmart in Indio, hotel resort stays from Fantasy Springs Casino, rounds of golf from two prestigious golf resorts, cash  & gift certificates, admission tickets to the Palm Springs Air Museum and the General George S. Patton Museum, and even personal fitness training.

Sponsors were also on hand to thank Veterans for their service and to cheer on those competing in the derby. Some 15 sponsors helped make the derby a successful event.

Steven Waggoner, a U S Navy Veteran who served in Vietnam, chairs the Veterans Cabinet for Supervisor Perez. Perez shared that Waggoner was also his teacher at Coachella Valley High School.  The Veterans cabinet serves as Supervisor Perez’s principal advisors on Veterans and military policies.

Fishing Derby Deemed 'Great Success'

Supervisor Perez and Fishing Derby Friends

This is the third event that Perez and the Veterans Cabinet teamed up to host. Bill Young, am Air Force Veteran called the event “a great success for Veterans, friends and family members.”

One elected official, Sheriff Chad Bianco, was spotted fishing and appeared to have a great time supporting the event. (His son is a West Point graduate and a U S Army Ranger), No word on whether Sheriff Bianco caught a fish. He was spotted with his pole and fishing license on the lake’s north shore.

Members of the Veterans of Foreign War- Indio Chapter, also showed up in force to support the effort. Mike Pierson helped accept the Space Force flag along with the county supervisor.

Master Gunnery Sgt. Daniel Smith III,  whose wife also showed up to support the event, said, “We were able to come together as Veterans from every period from the Cold War to present and have some fun, make new friends, and watch so many people have a great time we hope to make this a annual event.”

A vintage war bird flew over the event at noon time. Palm Springs Air Museum helped make the flyover a reality and the plane flew over during the awards presentation.

Fishing Derby Deemed 'Great Success'

Big horn sheep

Staff members from the Parks Ranger team received praise from Veterans as did Fourth District Deputy Chief of Staff Pat Cooper, Communications Director Darin Schemmer, Office Manager Margarita Felix, and the entire Fourth District team.

Organizers hope to have more events at the park. Those fishing were greeted by the parks famous Big Horn sheep  herd. Families and friends enjoyed the serenity of the lake and the beauty of the mountains. Great memories were made and they will last a life time.

This event could not have been possible without the generosity of sponsors, volunteers, park rangers, staff, and all the families that showed up to enjoy a morning at the Veterans Regional Park.




Image Sources

  • tom-photo-2: Tom Freeman
  • Supervisor Perez and Fishing Derby Friends: Facebook
  • Big horn sheep: Darin Schemmer, Facebook
  • Lake Cahuilla Regional Veterans Park: Facebook, Supervisor Perez