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Great Pootatuck Duck Race & Town Festival This Weekend

The 2014 Great Pootatuck Duck Race will take place on May 24, from 10 am until 2:30 pm, rain or shine.

This year’s race features a new co-operative arrangement between Newtown Lions Club and Sandy Hook Organization for Prosperity (SHOP). Returning to a presentation that was offered during the first few years of the event, which encompassed more of Sandy Hook Center, vendors and volunteer organizations will on Saturday display their wares and share information along sidewalks within Sandy Hook Center as well as within the park area at 3 Glen Road.

Organizers will be celebrating that new partnership this weekend, and certainly hoping that skies will be blue and the water of the Pootatuck River fairly calm for up to 5,000 rubber ducks.

Up to 40 exhibitors are expected to participate the festival. Events and displays offered during the hours leading up to the duck race will be set up from park area to the corner of Church Hill and Glen Road, and continuing west as far as Figs Wood-Fired Bistro at 105 Church Hill Road.

Members of SHOP are planning to have special events, including sidewalk sales, wine tastings, food samples, and more.

The Newtown United Methodist Church Men’s Group will be selling food from their booth in the NUMC parking lot, at 92 Church Hill Road. Fun Kuts/Fun Kids Consignments, at 111 Church Hill Road, is also planning to offer snacks, along with temporary tattoos.

A touch-a-truck event will also be set up in the church parking lot, featuring emergency vehicles used by the American Red Cross, Newtown Underwater Search And Rescue, Newtown Volunteer Ambulance Corps, and Sandy Hook Volunteer Fire & Rescue. Members of each group will be available to answer questions about the vehicles and the volunteer efforts of each team.

The Ladies Auxiliary of Sandy Hook Fire & Rescue will be accepting donations for FAITH Food Pantry. Nonperishable donations will be collected, and then delivered to the pantry located within St John’s Church in Sandy Hook.

A second vehicle from Sandy Hook Fire & Rescue will also be set up for visitors of all ages in the rear lot at 100 Church Hill Road. Also set up in that parking lot will be a new addition to this year’s event: a truck from Xtreme Gaming in Shelton, with family-friendly video games for all ages.

“There will not be any shooting games,” said SHOP Marketing Coordinator Melissa Lopata.

 

The Prizes

For many, the big draw of The Great Pootatuck Duck Race is the dumping of thousands of yellow rubber ducks into the Pootatuck River. Tickets for the Duck Race are still $5 each. There are 5,000 tickets available for this year’s race, and final sales will be taking place on Saturday. Ticket holders will be vying a share of a prize package that this year is worth over $4,900, according to the club.

The Lions Club plans to have at least two Duck Race ticket booths set up. One will be in the park area along the Pootatuck River and the other will be on Church Hill Road. Duck Race memorabilia will also be sold in the park.

(The Lions will have another booth set up as well, with other members selling tickets for another major club fundraiser: the annual Mustang Raffle.)

As in past years, 20 prizes are up for grabs. Winners will be those whose tickets correspond to the first 20 ducks to pass into a chute about a quarter of a mile down the Pootatuck from the launch point.

First prize this year will be $2,000; second prize is “Show and Go,” a combination of a show, hotel accommodations, and dinner for two; and third is a mini iPod with case, valued at $467.

Seventeen additional prizes will also be up for grabs on Saturday. The ducks will be dropped into the river from a bucket loader at 2:30 Saturday.

 

Live Entertainment

In the hours leading up to the ceremonial Dumping of The Ducks, live entertainment will be ongoing. There will be two stages this year, one on the sidewalk in front of Sandy Hook Hair Co. at 102 Church Hill Road, and the other in the event’s traditional location — the pavilion at 3 Glen Road.

At the Church Hill Road location, musical entertainment will be offered by DJ (and Duck Race Chair) Bob Schmidt from 10 to 11 am. The schedule this week has been changed from what was previously announced, and now has Jim Allyn performing at 11, followed by Solid Gold Times Two (Mr Schmidt and his wife Josie) at 11:30.

Classic rock band Not Too Late will take over at 12:30.

DJ Oscar DeLos Santos will open the Glen Road stage at 10 am, followed by a performance by students of Gray’s School of Irish Dance at 11:30. Members of The Newtown Juggling & Circus Arts Club will perform at noon, and then at 12:30, students from Porco Karate Academy will take the stage.

Magic Marty will offer a 30-minute show beginning at 1 pm, followed by a return of students from Porco Karate Academy at 1:30. The final act of the day will be a performance by students of The Graceful Planet, at 2 pm.

Rain or shine, Newtown Lions Club and SHOP have planned a day that will, according to Mr Schmidt, “encourage people to explore Sandy Hook Center, and be an event that all ages can enjoy.”

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