Most parents know that when your kid wins a goldfish at a fair - like the Manhattan Beach Hometown Fair
- the fish may only live for a few days, weeks, or months at the most.
But that wasn't the case for Abby Waddell and her family. The Waddell's Manhattan Beach Hometown Fair goldfish is turning 20 years old this year - That's right: 20. Two. Zero. - and they are pretty sure it can lay claim to the title of Oldest Hometown Fair Fish in Manhattan Beach.
(Editor's note: Do you have a fish from the Hometown Fair that's older than 20? Let us know!)
According to Waddell, in 2003, her older son Davis played a game that involved throwing ping pong balls in bottles and won a couple of fish.
(The goldfish/ping pong ball game at the Manhattan Beach Hometown Fair, as seen in 2014 - File photo from the MB News archives.)
One of those fish, whom they named Paco, was clearly a survivor. "He killed all of the other fish in the tank, so he has been solo for many years," said Waddell.
Paco doesn't get any special kind of food or treatment, added Waddell - he just keeps carrying on. "He has moved from a fishbowl to five and eight gallon tanks - and now he's in a 10 gallon tank so he can swim around."
A fish who's been around that long clearly has a feisty side, and Paco certainly does. "Every time you walk in the kitchen close to him, he comes over and wants food and tries to get your attention," she said.
Paco did, however, have a near-brush with death. Waddell's husband Bill gave MB News this dramatic first-hand account:
"On July 21, 2019, I returned home from La Quinta where I had been helping with the care needed for Abby’s mother. Upon entering my house in Manhattan Beach, I observed that our goldfish Paco was floating upside down and not moving at all." [see photo]
Waddell continued: "It came to me that I needed to grab Paco in the water and rotate him/her in an “8” motion to bring oxygen into Paco’s gills. After rotating for about one minute, Paco came back and began breathing again but was still listing sideways. After removing all the water and replacing with new, Paco recovered completely within 5 minutes." [see photo]
Paco is still in good shape as he enters his 20s. "He is no longer gold; he is white with a bit of scoliosis, but he has withstood the test of time," said Abby Waddell.
The Manhattan Beach Hometown Fair takes place this weekend, October 7 and 8. Unfortunately, the fair no longer has booths where you can win live fish - but there are many other games and activities to entertain your kids all weekend.