Norwood Fishing Derby celebrates 25th year in town
Light rains and overcast skies greeted participants of the Norwood Fishing Derby Saturday, April 26, but that didn’t stop roughly 150 people from coming out to the annual event.
The steady drizzle was nothing compared to the hurricane of ’89, the first year of the derby, said co-founder Michael Saad.
“It poured that year,” Saad said. “It was just buckets and buckets of rain.”
The derby has come a long way since Saad and the South Norwood Committee helped clean out the Hawes Pond more than two decades ago. Saad said he used to skate at the pond as a kid for hours each day. Then, the pond fell into disrepair with trees clogging its banks.
“We thought we’d try to bring it back to what it was before and make it into a nice little park,” Saad said. “Then, we put the walking paths in and thought, ‘Let’s have a derby.’”
Joe Bartell of the North Walpole Fish and Game Club remembered when the neighborhood around Hawes Pond was a rough place to be. Now, generations of area families have made the derby an annual event.
“It used to be a tough place but now it’s a community thing,” Bartell said. “This event is part of that transformation. Norwood has changed a lot in the years.”
With hotdogs sizzling on the grill, families of different sizes and make-ups flanking the pond, and kids running around with glee, Norwood Recreation Department director Jerry Miller described the scene as something out of a Norman Rockwell print.
“It’s great to see kids of different ages with different equipment all come together to fish,” Miller said.
The Recreation Department helps set up and break down the event, Miller said, providing bathrooms and staff, while other community groups provide food, fishing gear, and volunteers.
All told, over 300 fish were added to the pool, and Miller said there were some 650 fish in the pond overall. Five-year-old Daniella Parise caught the first fish of the day: a 12 oz. sunfish.
“It’s a fun way to mark the start of spring, although it’s usually much warmer,” said her dad, Robert Parise. “It’s one of the first events of the spring.”
William Wu, 9, a Norwood resident, caught the most fish that day. With less than a half hour to go before the derby completed, Wu had caught five fish. He said he used regular power bait, but his mom, Li Xu, said there might have been a little luck involved as well.
“William started fishing at one-years-old,” Xu said. “Maybe he just has the magic hand.”