Melbourne teen helps keep Mousehole Days alive

While the Melbourne “Mousehole” landmark is no more, the festival continues this year Aug. 5-7, largely thanks to the efforts of a young Melbourne resident.

“We are running on a budget that carried over ,” said 16-year-old Jacob Borton, who started planning a month ago for events to add to this year’s town festival.

He said the idea came to him while lifeguarding at the local pool.

“I said ‘we have to do something for the kids,'” he said, having heard complaints about a lack of activities for the weekend from children at the pool. “We got a few people to help volunteer.”

Amanda Minser, Theresa Daters, Deb Mercer and Mary Pothast also worked hard to make Mousehole Days 2016 a reality.

“People were concerned we weren’t going to have (Mousehole Days) this year,” Pothast said. “We almost didn’t, but Jacob (Borton) really stepped up.”

She added she was excited for some new events this year, including slip-and-slide and water balloon fights.

“The slip-and-slide should be absolutely hilarious,” she said.

Despite a tight budget, this year’s Mousehole Days have plenty to offer visitors, including a parade today at 10:30 a.m. and the Firemen’s Fish Fry that was held Friday night.

“The fish fry always brings a good crowd,” Borton said.

Melbourne Fire Department Chief Bob Monroe has been in charge of the fish fry for many years, and said the event has only grown in popularity.

“Normally we feed between 500 and 600 people,” he said. “It’s grown from 100 pounds of fish when we started to 600 pounds now.”

A donation box sat at the beginning of the food line at the Melbourne Fire Station, and Monroe said the money will go toward the Melbourne Firefighters Association and eventually to fire equipment.

Even before the 5 p.m. start of the fish fry, dozens of people began to line the edge of the fire station in an L-shape around the room filled with tables and chairs. Eventually, those chairs were filled with hundreds of visitors.

“It’s something to do that’s different,” said Kristie Gersdorf as she enjoyed her fried pollock. “I come every year.”

On top of fried fish, guests we offered coleslaw, cheesy potatoes, cookies and pie. Iced tea and lemonade helped keep visitors cool in the warm weather.

“The pie is my favorite,” said Tyson Bunting, accompanied by his aunt Renee Maas and sister Jadyn. “I had it last year and the year before.”

Maas called this year’s fish fry “awesome” and said she attends every year.

Mousehole Days festivities will ramp up today with activities for both children and adults.

Events Borton said he looks forward to today include a visit from Mercy Medical Center’s Mercy One helicopter, the kickball tournament and the water balloon fight.

“Everything’s been out of the blue,” Borton said. “Every year there’s been something.”

With Little Miss and Mister Melbourne crowned Friday night, Mousehole Days Saturday begins with a 5k walk/run at 7:30 a.m.

After the parade rolls through town, visitors can have some fun in the water with a slip-and-slide setup at Library Hill. A splash dance at the pool from 6-9 p.m. and a dusk fireworks display will also provide entertainment. A late-night street dance will be hosted by Clark’s Bar from 9 p.m. to 1 a.m.

Softball tournaments will be going on all day, with the championship game set for 7:30 p.m.

Events wind down Sunday with Yoga in the Park at 8 a.m. to start the day. After that, there will be a church fellowship and service at 9:30 and 10:30 a.m., respectively. Coffee, juice and donuts will be served at the fellowship.

“They’ve been very supportive,” Borton said of his friends, family and much of the community. He added some people in the area may have felt his efforts were too much, but said he’s glad he took the initiative.

For more info on the schedule for Melbourne Mousehole Days 2016, go to www.melbourneiowa.com/events/


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