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Hug-a-Tree/Kiss-a-Fish set to return in new location

April 17, 2017

The Eighth annual Richard and Mitzi Hanks Memorial Hug-a-Tree/Kiss-a-Fish Youth, a three-day adventure, is making a return this year but this time it will be held at an all new location.

The three-day camping adventure hosted by the Community and Children’s Impact Center is designed to help impoverished families give their children the outdoor experience they may otherwise not get to enjoy due to limited income.

“It’s taking care of poverty related and special needs families,” said Impact Center Executive Director Brenda Myers.

The event is typically held at the Artesian Lakes Resort in Cleveland. However, the resort is no longer able to host the event due to a recent change.

“The insurance was just too much to cover a three-day campout,” said Myers.

This did not stop Hug-a-Tree/Kiss-a-Fish from happening as a friend of the Impact Center and Myers provided an alternative solution through the Alabama-Coushatta Tribe of Texas, located outside of Livingston, Texas.

According to Myers, this friend is the granddaughter of one of the elders at the tribe and suggested the use of the Lake Tombigbee Campgrounds. Myers met with Campgrounds Director Katie Daniels and explained the purpose of the camping event.

“She just fell in love with what we’re doing,” said Myers.

Myers says the Lake Tombigbee Campgrounds has virtually everything campers once found at the Artesian Lakes Resort except it lacks a swimming pool. However, the campgrounds more than make up for this with a vast lake that campers can use for numerous activities.

“It’s going to allow more fishing, more swimming, more kayaking,” said Myers.

Those who choose to come to Hug-a-Tree/Kiss-a-Fish have the opportunity to participate in a fishing tournament, enjoy presentations and entertainment such as dancing, meet celebrities and much more.

Celebrities known to make appearances in the past include former Harlem Globetrotter Reggie “Air Man” Dixon, boxers Maurice “Termite” Watkins and Reggie “Sweet” Johnson, Ronald McDonald and more.

This year some new celebrity faces are coming to Hug-a-Tree/Kiss-a-Fish including World Wrestling Entertainment star Booker T. Booker T is a retired wrestler from WWE.

“He is now the announcer for WWE,” said Myers.

These are only a few of many celebrity faces that will be present at Hug-a-Tree/Kiss-a-Fish.

Presentations and booths will be set up with groups such as the Texas Rattlesnake Association, Ducks Unlimited, the Beekeepers Association and more.

The camping event is also hosting headliners to sing and perform such as Darwin Macon, Kenny Cooper, Richard Savercool, Shayne Porter and others.

Myers discussed how much the event has impacted other individuals with bait donations from the Romayor and April Sounds bait shops, food provided for sponsors and celebrities from Bailey’s Barbecue, kayaks provided by Keith Fussell of Red Alert Lures and others just to name a few donors.

“It just shows you what great people we have in our community,” said Myers.

Those who wish to participate in the fishing tournament should arrive to check in at 10 a.m. The tournament starts at 1 p.m.

The tournament is divided into age ranges for children ages 3 to 6, 7 to 11 and 12 to 17. Adults can compete with a $10 donation.

This year also marks the first annual special needs fishing tournament, which Myers says is made possible thanks to Billy Sthumann, Cass Coroiescu and Alicia and Jeremy Murray.

“They went out and collected $9,000 for everything that has to do with the special needs fishing tournament,” said Myers.

Anyone who wishes to participate in the camping trip or contribute as a sponsor or in any other way can contact Myers at 936-499-2632.

The Hug-a-Tree/Kiss-a-Fish camping is scheduled for May 19 to 21. The Lake Tombigbee Campgrounds are located at 1417 Campground Rd., Livingston, Texas.