I’ve heard it said that in the early 1970s, a huge fish was caught in the pond at Prospect Park. Locals say that it took several adults and children to pull the prehistoric monster up on shore.
I wasn’t there, of course. But the story goes that it occurred at the fishing derby put on by the Park District of Clarendon Hills. In the early years of this annual event, there were always some pretty big fish pulled out during the contest.
On this particular Saturday in late July, the children had begun casting their lines early in the morning (without much luck). But around 10 a.m., the pole of one of the children slowly began to bend over. His grandfather thought that he had caught a “tree bass” or a boot, or maybe something that was affixed to the bottom of the pond. The line was very tight, and whatever was on the other end was not responding to the tugs the child was making. The boy’s grandpa came over and tried to help, but the line seemed as though it would snap if they pulled too hard.
Soon, many of the others participating in the event began to notice the commotion and could see that the pair needed assistance. Three adults began helping the youngster, and it appeared that they were making some headway with the slow-moving mass.
Then, without warning, the peaceful day was shattered as the massive head of a fish broke through the top of the water! Three times the size of an adult human, this monster’s head looked like a catfish but had a bony and prickly face. Its body was covered with a carpet of peat moss. People were screaming with shock and awe; they had never seen such a big and ugly fish! Several brave men and women jumped into the pond to help push and pull the fish to the shore.
If you’re sensing something is a little fishy about this fish story, come check it out for yourself! This Saturday is the annual fishing derby at Prospect Park. It’s for Clarendon Hills residents and is always fun for the whole family. Grandparents, dads, moms, sons and daughters have a great time at this annual tradition of catch-and-release competition. Trophies will be given for the longest fish in age groups of eight and under, 9-12, 13-17 and adults.
I recently spoke with the always delightful Superintendent of Recreation, Kelly Smith, about the upcoming event. She said the fishing’s good; in May the Park District stocked the pond with over 150 bluegill and 45 bass. This week they put in over 400 catfish!
Of course … they never stocked the monster. Nobody knows where that prehistoric beast came from. But people say that when it woke up to find itself on shore, it was not happy with the rather smallish humans poking and prodding its imposing body. With one big whip of its tail it knocked several bystanders to the ground, and with another it flung itself into the air and leapt back into the pond. A giant wave of water crashed onshore, careening across the park and reaching as far as the future site of Clarendon Hills Middle School! (Historians note that this event later inspired the idea to flood the tennis courts for ice skating.)
That wave also crashed over the young boy holding the fishing pole. And while the smile never left that child’s face, the fish that was caught that day did leave. Some say he’s still down there in the depths, waiting for just the right bait.
Is it yours?
In my column two weeks ago, another “fish” story was told about a terminator of sorts: the Tickenator, a fictitious but hilarious (so I thought) police officer with an insatiable desire to give tickets, stemming from the Caddy that kept him from going to the Cubs game in his youth. It was never intended to be degrading or to challenge our wonderfully dedicated police force in Clarendon Hills. My apologies if this was taken the wrong way. I should have included a disclaimer: “Only read if you have a sense of humor … it’s all in good fun.”
Mike is a Clarendon Hills resident; husband; Indian Princess; Indian Guide Dad; a Coach; an “old” football player and a real estate broker. Mike’s columns are usually crafted about the buzz in and around the area. It sometimes has a spin on real estate or cultural information, highlight a new business or announce school happenings. He might include a “get-to-know” about some of our interesting residents and even a little about history. Whatever it is, it is sure to be about the “Talk of the Town”.