Duck Race Successful On Several Fronts
The 20th annual Estes Park Duck Race raised more than $117,000 for 69 charities and organizations benefiting residents of the Estes Valley. It also made 809 people very happy – they were prize winners in the race.
“Wow! What a fantastic event,” said Gary “Big Duck” Hazelton, chairman of the duck race committee that staged the race for the Rotary Club of Estes Park. “We were so lucky to have great weather, big crowds, great entertainment, wonderful ticket sales, 6,506 ducks adopted – wow! And, the volunteer dive team did a superb job of making sure the ducks made it down the river.”
One of the big winners in the race is 18-year old Luke Schweitzer, a senior at Estes Park High School. He walked into the Wheel Bar and glanced at the winner’s board. “At first I didn’t realize who this ‘Luke Schweitzer’ was on the board.” And then it hit- he won a Caribbean cruise for two. Schweitzer said he bought just one ticket-from fellow student Alicia Stark. “It’s his graduation present,” said Stark.
“I never really win stuff,” explained Schweitzer who plans to attend the Colorado School of Mines in the fall. Just who will go with him on the cruise is still undecided. But his prize-winning duck in the race has brought him new popularity. “Just walking around (Riverside Plaza after the race) I made a lot of new friends.”
Race officials said it took just an hour and a half for the first duck to cross the finish line. That’s a fairly remarkable feat considering the lack of snow melt before this year’s race.
Duck adoptions were down 8% this year, but prizes offered by Estes Park merchants were up 19%. Those who adopted a duck in the race had a one-in-eight chance of winning a prize.
“The real winners in this race are the charities and organizations who will share in the $117,108 we raised,” said Hazelton. “They sold duck adoption forms and helped promote the race. “We also, once again, had tremendous support from the business community. They provide the prizes and make this all possible. I can’t thank them enough.”
Hazelton also thanked members of the Rotary Club’s Duck Race Committee. “I am very impressed with the amount of dedication and giving that each and every committee member provided,” said Hazelton. “There are so many aspects to making this highly successful event happen each year and for the 20th anniversary, you all did an exceptionally remarkable job.”
As he prepares to pass the chairmanship to Chuck Coffey for next year’s race, Hazelton told committee members, “This has been a fantastic year for me. It’s been a privilege. Many, many thanks for letting me be the Big Duck!”
-Estes Park News, Estes Park, Colorado-