Coastie the safety boat in Rochester - KTTC Rochester, Austin, Mason City News, Weather and Sports

By Heidi Wigdahl

Coastie the safety boat in Rochester

ROCHESTER (KTTC) -- The lakes are still frozen, but the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary is already gearing up for boat safety this summer.

Created back in 1996, Coastie is the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary's mascot, an animated robotic boat, which teaches boating and water safety to kids.

Coastie visited Rochester for the first time and was showcased at the Rochester Sports and Vacation Show at the Mayo Civic Center on Saturday.

"He can listen to what the kids have to say and he can talk back and forth," said Gene Nolan, who is with the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary.

"Normally we'll ask them: how old they are, do they go boating, if they go boating, 'Do you wear your life jackets when you're out on the boat?'"

According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than one in five fatal drowning victims are children 14 and younger.

"When he comes into a boat show and just brings in the kids, that's really what it's all about. We want as many people as we can to visit our booth so we have the opportunity to talk to them," Nolan said.

It's taken years to get Coastie to Rochester and while Minnesota's lakes are still frozen, Coastie hopes children will remember their friend when getting into a boat this summer.

Coastie's next appearance will be in La Crosse at the 2011 La Crosse Boat Sports and Travel Show from Feb. 10 to Feb. 13.

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