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Hastings Rotary Club offers free fishing boat rides for seniors

Eventually, the boating season will come and the Hastings Rotary Club is preparing for it. As one of the host chapters for Let's Go Fishing, it is getting ready for another season of fishing and boat rides for seniors along the St. Croix and Mississippi rivers.

Last year, about 700 riders had the opportunity to enjoy the outings on the rivers, according to Chuck Egeberg, Let's Go Fishing coordinator for the Hastings Rotary Club. The rides are free.

This is the third year of Let's Go Fishing for the Hastings chapter. The Hastings Rotary Club has been an enthusiastic supporter.

"This is a statewide organization which offers free fishing for seniors and families, said Egeberg. "Some used to fish, but can't do anymore; others have always wanted to fish."

The club received an initial grant from the Ruth Dale and George Doffing Fund to pay for half of the 13-seat pontoon boat. The club, through various fundraisers. collected the remainder.

Generally, the rides, once in the morning, once in the afternoon Monday through Thursday, are about two hours in length, he said.

"We go up the St. Croix to Kinnickinnic River; and last year we went on the Mississippi river because many wanted to see the bridge construction; that happened more and more. I expect we will be on the Mississippi River again because people will want to see the bridge demolition this year."

The Hastings area rides have continued to grow because of the rivers the boat can navigate and the different sights. For some other chapters, they only have the use of smaller lakes for their fishing.

Each ride is staffed by a trained volunteer captain and volunteers to help the riders. All wear proper life jackets when on board the boat.

The scheduling of the rides is handled through the Hastings Area Senior Center, Tilden Community Center, and usually begin about June 1.

There are ongoing maintenance costs for the boat, but the Rotary Club has about 10 area businesses and banks which have generously donated to their efforts.

"Actually, it becoming more and more a community program," said Egeberg.

An upcoming Rotary Club wine tasting event May 9 at the Hastings Country Club is designated to help raise funds for the rides. Riders have come from Hastings, Cottage Grove and Prescott and the response has been wonderful, said Egeberg.

"Everybody has a great time," he said.

For more information about how to volunteer and help in other areas of Let's Go Fishing, contact Laurie Thrush at the Senior Center, 651-480-7689.