Who: Cindy Wong
City: Pompano Beach
Quote: “I am like every other mom: except for this”
“Of course I get afraid. I am out in the Everglades hunting alligators in the dark. Every instinct in me says to run away. I have this perpetual adrenaline surge because I know that one slip and it is over. Gators are strong, their tails can break my legs, their jaws can sever my arms. An alligator can jump the height of its body
Once a gator is trapped, it’s a fight until the death so I would be crazy not to be scared. Alligators live to fight and eat. They need to be removed because they eat other living things.
I justify taking the life of a gator by using every single part of it. I sell the skin, I make knives and jewelry from their bones, back scratchers from their limbs and trophies from their skulls. I have become a really good alligator meat cook too. I make a nice Asian style stir-fry where I slice it thin and marinade it in milk. No, it does not taste like chicken, maybe a little like pork or snake but it really just tastes like itself. What I don’t freeze for my family, I sell to restaurants, or trade with fishermen.
In my yard I have a studio set up where I skin the alligators and prepare the other parts for sale. The biggest reward for me, however, goes far beyond the lucrative part.
I can be with my son George when he gets home from school. I am a room parent. I am active in the PTA. I have time to cook dinner, and no, George does not eat alligator, he is a vegetarian. George is the reason I got the trappers license from Florida Fish and Wildlife. No more working till 5pm at Boca Raton Hospital and being on someone else’s clock. No sitting in traffic twice a day. Since I have been doing this, I can see how much better George is doing in school.
People don’t believe me when I tell them I am an alligator trapper. With that title comes a lot of training and a huge responsibility.
South Florida has strict rules about alligator trapping. I paid $300 to take a class and get licensed. Alligator season starts August and lasts until the end of October. We have to hunt in specific storm treatment areas where the water is channeled, the chemicals are removed and the alligators are overpopulated. We are allowed two tags (two alligators) per person. We must use harpoons, a boat with no motor and accurately judge their size.
The worst part of doing this? The bugs in the Everglades are the size of your fist.“
“I am Anita Mitchell and I collect people stories, much the same way people collect shoes or baseball cards or Lladro porcelain figurines. During my 26 years at WSVN7, I had the front-row seat to people stories and it was there I learned about the extraordinariness of the ordinary.
Since retiring from television news, I serve on the Board of Directors of Different Brains, a charitable foundation that supports neurodiverse adults. I also serve on the Board of Directors of the Broward County Sports Hall of Fame. We honor local residents who have set unique standards of excellence through sports.
Since 2004, I have swum competitively with our local Swim Fort Lauderdale Masters Swim Team (SFTL).
I don’t really know how the writing and the swimming and the neurodiverse and honoring local sports figures are connected but I know in my heart that they are.