HAMMOND | With fall-like temperatures hovering at 48 degrees, a hearty group of adults and children took to the shores, paths and waters of Wolf Lake on Saturday for the first day of the Wetlands, Wind & Water Festival.
Sponsored by the Association for the Wolf Lake Initiative, the two-day fest continues Sunday at Chicago’s William Powers Conservation Area on the Illinois side of Wolf Lake.
“This provides an opportunity for families to get back to nature and away from computers,” said Bob Victor, an association member and fishing clinic coach. “It brings kids out into nature, and (allows them) to see the value of Wolf Lake.”
Brian Acevedo, 9, of Hammond, learned during Victor’s clinic that it takes patience to catch a fish. The youngster also decided that fishing was OK as long as someone else baited the hook with a worm.
“I don’t want to put the worm on myself. It feels nasty,” said Brian, a third-grader at Edison Elementary School. “I want to catch a catfish.”
Water safety played a big part in the lakeside event.
Vanessa Villarreal, of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in Chicago, provided materials and instructions for families about staying safe around water.
“We tell the community never to swim alone. Water can look shallow and suddenly there’s a drop off and you’re underwater,” Villarreal said.
The Crimson Wave Rowing Crew from Calumet College of St. Joseph demonstrated its skills.
Festivalgoers brave enough to get their feet and legs wet in the cold lake walked out to the crew's boat and received some instruction in rowing.
“It takes teamwork because everybody’s in the same rhythm. It’s a mental sport as well as a physical sport,” said team member Destinee Reyes, of Highland.
Calm winds prevented the scheduled kite flying, but a hike along Wolf Lake’s restored wetlands led by Young Choi, of Purdue University Calumet, went on without a hitch.
Getting back to nature also involves cultivating gardens, said Karen Banes, of Hammond, a member of the Cargill Green Team and leader of Cub Scout Pack 518 in Griffith.
“The boys tried so hard to get their kites up in the air. They did fishing and learned about water safety. Now I’m going to take them to the Environmental Education Center, and they can help me with a garden I’m working on there,” she said.