Salmon's return brings different groups together

Posted: Wednesday, May 28, 2003

The generosity of some area children and the setting aside of differences by some adults came together recently to the joy of 50 seniors and friends celebrating the return of the salmon at Soldotna's Heritage Place.

Two king salmon caught by children during the Take A Kid Fishing Day were among the 60 to 70 pounds of fish donated for the celebration Friday hosted by the Kenai River Professional Guides Association and the Kenai-Soldotna Fish and Game Advisory Committee.

"I talked to Dennis (Murray) about having a 'Return of the Salmon Celebration' for the residents, and he suggested we get the guides together for this," said John Nelson, a member of the advisory committee. Murray is the administrator of Heritage Place.

"Usually we're at odds with each other," Nelson said of the guides and the advisory committee.

"But we thought we should see if we could get along or at least argue in a friendly way," he said.

Ty Van Lier, spokesperson for the KRPGA, which annually sponsors the kids' fishing day, agreed, and the two groups got busy planning the feast. Two children who caught king salmon during the kids' outing Heather Bormann and Shanda Dahlen donated part of their catch.

The guides provided the balance of fresh king salmon and the two groups got together for the cooking, serving and cleanup. In addition to grilled and deep-fried salmon, the nursing facility residents and family members were treated to corn on the cob, potato salad, coleslaw and lots of desserts.

Entertainment was provided by "Lucky" Kirk, who played guitar and sang many old standards, as well as "God Bless America," in honor of the Memorial Day holiday.

"I like all the fish," said Stanley Woster, 78, who moved to Heritage Place from Los Angeles two years ago. "I caught several king salmon last year, but I haven't caught any this year."

Albert Morris, who tells everyone he's 40 or 42 or 39, also enjoyed the fish.

"I had the fried," he said.

Morris, who moved to Heritage Place from Canada, said he personally has never caught any kings.

In addition to Heritage Place residents and their families, diners also included staff members and seniors from the Soldotna Senior Citizens Center.

Before the last guest was served, Nelson and Van Lier were overheard cooking up plans for what may be the second annual "Return of the Salmon Celebration" next year.

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