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Dads have their day at Miller Park

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BLOOMINGTON — It's a longstanding family tradition for Jim Wellenreiter of Roanoke to go fishing on Father's Day at Miller Park in Bloomington. On Sunday, he and his son, Clayton, were doing what they always do, fishing for catfish.

"It's tough to catch anything here," he said. "These fish know what they are doing. They will steal your bait and not get caught."

Over the years, the Wellenreiters have caught dozens of fish and released them back into the lake — including at least one on Sunday — but nobody was overly concerned that the fish were outsmarting them on this particular day.

"My family has been coming here ever since I can remember," he said. "It's just something we always do."

Such laid-back family activities were common Sunday at Miller Park as families from all over Illinois spent time enjoying Father's Day.

Matt Lewis and his family toured Miller Park Zoo as part of a two-day celebration of the holiday.

"It's Father's Day weekend so on Saturday, we had pool day, and today it's zoo day," he said, while helping his 4-year-old son, Owen, with a puzzle at the zoo.

"My dad's a big nerd," Owen said. "We got him a Ninja Turtle blanket, the second Transformers book, and some superhero pants."

Also visiting the zoo was Mahomet resident Randy Mason with his son, Caleb, daughter, Sara, and wife, Janis.

"We haven't been here for about 10 years or so," Randy Mason said. "But, since it was a nice day, we came here instead of a movie. I enjoy Father's Day, though, just because it is a relaxing day to spend with the family."

It wasn't the live animals at the zoo that caught the attention of 4-year-old Drake Erickson of Bloomington, who was visiting with his father, Derek. The pair took more than one ride on the merry-go-roundat the zoo.

"He comes here all of the time, because he loves it so much," Derek Erickson said. "Nothing wrong with that. It's a great place to come and a great place for families."

For Mike Howe of Bloomington, Father's Day is special because of his grandfather status, but it's also a day for family. In addition to honoring all of the dads in the family, some birthdays were also being celebrated in a nearby pavilion at the park, he said.

"In today's world, families expand and everyone is so busy and it is difficult to get everyone together," he said. "So, we take a day like Father's Day and celebrate that, but also celebrate any birthdays that might be around this time. It just adds to the day, as far as I am concerned. I just want to spend it with the family."

​Follow Kevin Barlow on Twitter: @pg_barlow.


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