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OP-ED:Talking about parenting- Our people bleed orange

Chris Kovatch

This past weekend was one for the record books. Near perfect weather, lots of planning, food vendors, entertainers, and anglers all came together to draw the largest crowd at any Bassmaster Elite event to date. I have been involved in the previous tournaments but in a vendor or volunteer capacity. This was my first year to work with the team that plans the event. The amount of work, and this year coupled with the short time for preparation, that goes into this event is astounding. Just like I didn’t realize what went into the Lions Club Carnival until I became a Lion, I truly never took time to stop and think what the organizers did to make this tournament happen.

We had a number of people on the ‘core’ planning team and each person owned their assigned tasks with an efficiency and fervor that is rarely seen. Remember, everyone involved in planning this event is doing it from a volunteer standpoint. This is all done in their spare time, or in some cases, vacation time or time away from the businesses they own. That makes the project even more impressive.

I know if I try to mention every name I will leave someone out. I don’t want to do that. Every person involved is the reason the event is successful.

I do want to say a few thanks to people that helped me understand and learn what goes into this event.

Ida Schossow and Kristin Burman at the Chamber are rock stars in my book. Yes, they do work for the chamber, but this event goes well beyond normal work duties. It is quite evident how invested they are in what it means for the people and businesses of Orange County. Many times, I was ask by people what we needed help doing, and I quickly replied, “Whatever Ida or Kristin tell us to do.” They definitely help lead the charge on this project.

Judge John Gothia and David Jones, the two gentlemen who coordinated the first tournament to come to Orange along with each subsequent one, were amazing to work with. They both took time to make sure I was included and were there to answer any questions that arose. To both of them, this is so much more than a fishing tournament. It addresses quality of life, economic impact, partnership with local entities, and so much more. I had the opportunity to sit and talk with them many times during the event and it is extremely evident the love they both have for our area. That love and desire to see our area prosper is part of every decision that is made for this event.

Kristin Placette, Maureen McAllister, and Sherry Hommel were also three amazing individuals that help make this event a reality. From advertising to carnival coordination to planning for beverage sales and so much more; they also give so much to make this event a success. It’s not a task. It’s not a chore. It’s a privilege and one they approach with great determination.

Finally, Steve Jones. His name should alone be enough for someone to recognize and realize what role he plays. From sun up to sun down (and I am positive every minute in between) he is working to make the tournament move smoothly. He is quick to make adjustments as plans change and keeps a cool and calm demeanor through it all. ‘Uncle Steve’ is the backbone of this event and Orange is fortunate to have him.

Again, this is by no means a complete list of those whose are involved in this event. It is far from it. Again, it is not my intent to offend anyone by not naming them. I am so very thankful for everyone involved. These are just a few of the people who made my learning the ropes a much smoother experience.

Orange has so much going for it. Waterways, tourist attractions, events, experiences, and too much more to name. But its greatest resource is very simple to pin point. It’s the people. Our people bleed orange and are committed to our community. I challenge everyone to step up to the plate and get plugged into a group or activity that is focused on making Orange great. If we all did just a little bit, the impact would be immeasurable. Be the change.

Chris Kovatch is a resident of Orange County. You can reach him at news@orangeleader.com