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Family Outdoor Day booms with a spectrum of outdoors options at William Powers SRA on the Southeast Side

The inaugural Family Outdoors Day at William Powers SRA on Chicago’s Southeast Side delivered a wide spectrum of outdoors options.

The Chicago Family Outdoor Day is Saturday, here is a file photo from the inaugural version of the event in 2019. Credit: Dale Bowman
Steve Wabi worked with Janelle Watts on basic trap shooting Saturday at William Powers State Recreation Area.
Dale Bowman

While talking with Doug Aller, I realized his fluorescent orange cap had the iconic tongue logo of the Rolling Stones. I’m a Stones guy and never had seen one.

‘‘I made it myself,’’ Aller said.

The man has ideas.

His latest came to fruition Saturday at Family Outdoor Day at William Powers State Recreation Area on the Southeast Side.

To pull it off for 143 registrants (135 attendees) took an alphabet soup: Pheasants Forever, Union Sportsmen’s Alliance, New Concept Benefits, Illinois Natural History Survey’s Learn to Hunt program, National Wild Turkey Federation, Illinois Conservation Foundation, Illinois Department of Natural Resources and Bowfishing Association of Illinois.

The IDNR had its trailer there. There were archery targets and bowfishing. Hamburgers grilled, a free lunch courtesy of New Concept. Kids fished and kept the rod and reel. In the back came the pop of shotguns from people trying trap shooting.

That’s where I headed.

I watched Steve Wabi teach basic trap shooting as each person came up.

The shot was steel. The South Cook County chapter of Pheasants Forever manned the two trap stands. Shooters had to have a wristband to show they were registered, then put on ear protection and protective eyewear.

Wabi, the youth coordinator for the chapter, positioned them in proper form before the pull command was given and the clay target sailed in front of each shooter, who had chances at five clays.

Union painter Daniel Valdivia did a round of shooting and took ribbing from daughter Isabella about his skills.

‘‘I’ll stick to painting,’’ he joked as he returned to the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance booth.

As Janelle Watts took her turn, her aunt Loretta Sanon said: ‘‘She’s been wanting forever to do this. See the smiles on their faces.’’

At one point, Watts said: ‘‘My arm is getting tired, I’m gonna tell you.’’

But she came back from the stand all smiles and said: ‘‘It was fun.’’

She said she had shot a 9-millimeter pistol at a range once before.

‘‘It is pretty amazing to shoot in the city,’’ Wabi said.

He’s right. As somebody who has hunted ducks and geese at Wolf Lake, it is pretty amazing to shoot in Chicago.

Wabi observed that the kids picked trap up quickly because of their hand-eye coordination from video games.

That made me smile because one reason Aller came up with the idea for the day was to give kids viable options to looking at a screen.

Resized/Sun-Times
Doug Aller of New Concept Benefits, who had the idea for a broad-based outdoors family event that included trap shooting at William Powers SRA, sported a homemade Rolling Stones fluorescent orange cap.
Dale Bowman

‘‘I might sound like I’m 100 years old,’’ he said, but it gave him the impetus to pitch the idea to Chicago Firefighters Union Local 2 about eight months ago. The day grew from there.

‘‘It exploded a lot bigger than I expected it to,’’ said Katie Kauzlarich, the Illinois outreach coordinator for Pheasants Forever. ‘‘We already decided to do it again next year.’’

Outdoor Adventure Festival

Indiana Dunes Outdoor Adventure Festival, Friday through Sunday, has more than 70 outdoor adventures throughout the Dunes region, centered at Indiana Dunes State Park Visitor Center. It’s $10 (17 and younger free) and registration is required at dunesoutdoorfestival.com.

Stray cast

Think of it as perch fishing: The Sox are June 16; the Cubs are April 30, maybe even May 1.