This Sunday, grab your Rubber Duckies and head down to Olmsted Outlook on River Street for the Second Educk-ational Duck Race. At 2:30 PM on the dot, thousands of rubber ducks will race down the West River in the hopes of claiming the coveted first prize of $1,000 for its “sponsor.” Other top prizes will include an Apple iPad, UConn basketball tickets, a Canon EOS Rebel Camera, a YMCA membership and more. Ducks are only $5 each to sponsor, and they will be available the day of the race. You can sponsor as many as you want! Each duck will be numbered to keep track of who’s who.
The event will also feature a festival, which will be held at the JJ Sullivan Property on River Street, adjacent to the river. The festival will feature activities for the whole family, including music, interactive booths dedicated to outdoor education organizations, food, drink and more. The festival activities begin at Noon and go until 3 PM and admission is free!
The Guilford Fund For Education, a local organization established six years ago, sponsors the event. “The GFFE has been and is important to the town in that, since its inception in 2006, it has awarded more than $200,000 in grants to support innovative projects and programs for Guilford youth, both within the school district and through local nonprofit organizations,” says Maureen Belden, a member of the organization’s Board of Directors.
“For the Duck Race, the committee spends months planning the event, and scores of additional volunteers--some wearing waders and in kayaks--turn out at the West River on Race Day to help with logistics,” shares Belden. “They work on setting up the course, selling ducks, preparing food for sale, and helping with the Educational Festival”
One of the volunteers specializes in designing the racecourse and the duck holding pen. “Volunteers help construct it from countless pool noodles and other materials so that, when the race begins, some 3,000 rubber ducks are released to head toward the finish line, 400 feet downriver,” Belden explains.
But the Duck Race isn’t the only event the GFFE sponsors. “In addition to this weekend’s event, we also sponsor the Annual Adult Spelling Bee,” Belden explains. “Both of which are popular, beloved town events that are fun, spirited, and educational community events. But, they also help us raise necessary funds to support our grant program.”
Tom Piezzo, Teen Services Librarian at Guilford Free Library, remembers the Spelling Bee event fondly. “There were about three to four hundred people in attendance,” remembers Piezzo, “But you didn’t have to stand in the spotlight and give your answers, like in grade school, we were allowed to write them down.”
Children’s Librarian Suellen Heinrick also remembers participating in the spell-off. More recently, Heinrick expresses her excitement that the GFFE is also sponsoring two upcoming programs at the library this year. The first is a panel entitled “Social Skills and Challenges for Kindergarteners,” which is to be held Tuesday, October 2nd. The following month, the GFFE will sponsor “Kindergarten Science” on November 7th, a program for parents and children. “It’s thrilling for them to think of us and want to partner up to provide these kinds of programs to our community,” shares Heinrick. “Just hearing about what the GFFE does, the support they provide, and them simply just being there speaks to how valued education is to our community here in Guilford.”