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Lions Club, SHOP Partner For Great Pootatuck Duck Race & Town Festival

The 14th Annual Great Pootatuck Duck Race will be taking place this year — as it pretty much has for the past 13 years — on the Saturday of Memorial Day weekend (there was that one little hiccup last year, when weather caused the event to go from a day-long festival in the park at 3 Glen Road to a quick, rainy raffle drawing).

Astute residents may have also noticed that fliers and banners being posted around town this month have an addition to the name of this year’s event: Town Festival.

Newtown Lions Club, who created and has been running the Duck Race for 13 years, has teamed up with Sandy Hook Organization for Prosperity (SHOP) to present The Great Pootatuck Duck Race & Town Festival on Saturday, May 24. The Lions are sponsoring the event; SHOP is serving as its host.

The partnership will return Duck Race Day to its original presentation: a festival that felt more like a street fair. The first few Duck Race events encompassed more of the businesses, restaurants and locations along Church Hill Road, Glen Road and Washington Avenue. Within a few years the event was presented primarily in the park area at 3 Glen Road.

Bob Schmidt, a Lions Club member and returning chair of the Duck Race, likes to say this year’s event will be presented “from figs to The Foundry.” The two restaurants essentially mark the western- and easternmost points of festival, which will run from 10 am until 2:30 pm.

A few tents may be set up at 3 Glen Road, he said, but organizers expect to have plenty for Duck Race & Festival attendees to look for, participate in and enjoy throughout the area.

“We want to encourage people to go up and down the street, to visit,” Mr Schmidt said May 2. “It was actually Mike Porco, Sr [who owns 3 Glen Road, where Duck Race Day has been presented in recent years] who suggested this get spread out across town.”

Melissa Lopato, the marketing coordinator for SHOP, said she and the members of SHOP already appreciated the Lions Club event before the new partnership was created.

“The Lions are working to spread fun throughout town,” Ms Lopato said May 2. She and Mr Schmidt sat down together that Friday afternoon to talk about the collaboration between their respective groups, and the expectations for this year’s Duck Race & Town Festival.

“It’s important for me to revitalize the downtown shopping district” of Sandy Hook, Ms Lopato said. “Main Streets are important.

“The Pootatuck Duck Race is such a great tradition,” she continued. “The Lions have created and established this feel good, family event. We are happy to host it.”

Part of the return to the festival setting is a hope that people will visit Sandy Hook Center well before the day’s highlight: the dropping of a few thousand rubber ducks from a bucket loader into the Pootatuck River from the Church Hill Road bridge. In 2012, spectators were treated to the sight of 3,805 ducks going into the river.

The first Great Pootatuck Duck Race, in 2001, was held in conjunction with a number of business owners to showcase the revitalization of Sandy Hook that was already taking place. 

The businesses presented a Sandy Hook Village Festival Day, with many offering specials and samples at their locations. Meanwhile, the Lions and vendors flocked to the grassy area behind the businesses at 3 Glen Road; Lions Club members also sold tickets at The Glen, at 2 Washington Avenue.

“The Duck Race that year,” said Mr Schmidt, “and the first few years, was really focused in the park and on the corner of Church Hill and Washington Avenue, where we sold tickets.”

Over the years the event moved away from Church Hill Road, migrating toward the park area. The move by Lions to reconnect with the businesses in Sandy Hook began in September, when Mr Schmidt attended a SHOP meeting. It turns out, he said, everyone was trying to stay out of everyone else’s way. Both sides were just waiting for the invitation to work together on a big vacation and holiday weekend.

The return to a festival setting, said Mr Schmidt, “will help everybody.” Both groups are hoping that The Great Pootatuck Duck Race & Town Festival’s new presentation will echo that of Passport To Sandy Hook events. Held the past three Octobers, Passport encourages walking around Sandy Hook Center and checking out the businesses and special offerings in the same area that will be featured in the upcoming Duck Race. With new sidewalks and streetscaping in Sandy Hook Center, pedestrians will have an easier time than ever before when they walk between all of the locations hosting festival events on May 24.

Expanding The Great Pootatuck Duck Race back into a town festival setting has “taken a little more planning,” admitted Mr Schmidt. “It’s been a lot of work. We’ve been working with businesses, finding out where the good locations will be.”

In return, business owners, said Ms Lopato, have appreciated the effort to make sure tables, booths and tents do not interfere with traffic flow of their customers.

“They’re very cognizant of each other, and each other’s needs,” she said of the two groups.

With two stages offering entertainment, a few dozen vendors set up on sidewalks and special events taking place in the parking lots of Newtown United Methodist Church and PJ’s Laundromat, among other locations, organizers hope to see guests of all ages taking the time to stroll through the festival for a few hours prior to the actual duck race.

One stage will be set up on the sidewalk in front of Sandy Hook Hair Co. Mr Schmidt will be opening that performance area at 10 am. He will remain stationed there to introduce each subsequent performer, and also to announce specials at different locations.

“We’re going to showcase all of the wonderful stores and locations,” said Mr Schmidt. “I want to be on Church Hill Road to be able to announce everything. I think people need to discover, and rediscover, Sandy Hook Village.”

Ms Lopato concurred.

“They’re driving even more visibility to the businesses,” she said.

The second stage, set up at the park, will also open at 10 with Oscar Del Santos handling emcee duties. The Glen Road location will host performances by DJ Oscar (at 10 am), Gray’s School of Irish Dance (11:30), Newtown Juggling & Circus Arts Club (noon), Magic Marty (1 pm), students from Porco Karate Academy (1:30). Dancers from The Graceful Planet will perform at 2, leading into the big event on the Church Hill Road bridge.

At Mr Schmidt’s location, entertainment will be offered by DJ Bob; Solid Gold Times Two, an acoustic rock duo who will begin at 11 am; Not Too Late, with classic rock, at noon; and singer-songwriter Jim Allyn at 2.

Organizers promise that while The Great Pootatuck Duck Race & Town Festival may be expanding its area of presentation, all ages will still enjoy the day.

“People of any age will still be able to enjoy this great day,” said Mr Schmidt. “This isn’t something just for kids and families.”

 

Duck Race Tickets On Sale

Admission to The Great Pootatuck Duck Race & Town Festival is free. Live music and entertainment will be ongoing, and many businesses will have special offerings or tastings during the run of the festival.

Tickets for the main event — a raffle kicked off by the dumping of a few thousand rubber into the Pootatuck from the Church Hill Road bridge that spans the river — are $5 each. That’s the same price they have been since the inception of the event.

The Lions have 5,000 tickets available, and an equal number of ducks ready to go into the river should they be needed.

The ducks, numbered to correspond to the raffle tickets being sold until 1:30 that afternoon (or while supplies last), will be dropped into the river at 2:30.

Some will become caught along the banks, others may get caught up in whirls and rolling water and move out of order, but the first 20 that make it to just past the Dayton Street bridge and into a chute will earn prizes for their corresponding ticket holders. Prizes valued at more than $4,400 total will be given away this year.

First prize this year will beis $2,000.

Second prize is “Show and Go,” a combination of a show, hotel accommodations, and dinner for two.

Third is a mini iPod with case, valued at $467.

Prizes continue as follows: fourth, a three-month membership to Porco Karate Academy (valued at $450); fifth, pool pass to Treadwell Park ($214); sixth and seventh, three-month membership and training session to Club NewFit; eighth, $100 certificate to Sal e Pepe Contemporary Italian Bistro; ninth, $100 gift certificate to Figs; tenth, $50 gift certificate from Carminuccio’s Pizza;

11th prize, $50 gift certificate from The Foundry Kitchen & Tavern; 12th prize, $50 gift certificate from Tambascio’s Italian Grill; 13th prize, $50 gift certificate from Salon Michele; 14th prize, $50 gift certificate from My Place Restaurant; 15th prize, $50 gift certificate from The Villa Restaurant; 16th prize, a $42 gift certificate from Naser’s Salon; 17th prize, one-year subscription or renewal to The Newtown Bee ($42 value); 18th, $40 ticket voucher to The Little Theatre (Town Players of Newtown); 19th prize, $39.95 certificate from Berkshire Motors; and 20th prize, ten movie tickets to Edmond Town Hall Theatre ($20).

Tickets are available at a number of locations across town. Lions Club members have also been selling tickets on weekends.

In addition, most Lions Club members have tickets available to purchase. For specific locations or additional information, the public can contact Tom Evagash at 203-270-0332.

Proceeds from The Great Pootatuck Duck Race are used by the Lions Club for their charitable outreach.

The 14th Annual Great Pootatuck Duck Race will be taking place this year — as it pretty much has for the past 13 years — on the Saturday of Memorial Day weekend (there was that one little hiccup last year, when weather caused the event to go from a day-long festival in the park at 3 Glen Road to a quick, rainy raffle drawing).

Astute residents may have also noticed that fliers and banners being posted around town this month have an addition to the name of this year’s event: Town Festival.

Newtown Lions Club, who created and has been running the Duck Race for 13 years, has teamed up with Sandy Hook Organization for Prosperity (SHOP) to present The Great Pootatuck Duck Race & Town Festival on Saturday, May 24. The Lions are sponsoring the event; SHOP is serving as its host.

The partnership will return Duck Race Day to its original presentation: a festival that felt more like a street fair. The first few Duck Race events encompassed more of the businesses, restaurants and locations along Church Hill Road, Glen Road and Washington Avenue. Within a few years the event was presented primarily in the park area at 3 Glen Road.

Bob Schmidt, a Lions Club member and returning chair of the Duck Race, likes to say this year’s event will be presented “from figs to The Foundry.” The two restaurants essentially mark the western- and easternmost points of festival, which will run from 10 am until 2:30 pm.

A few tents may be set up at 3 Glen Road, he said, but organizers expect to have plenty for Duck Race & Festival attendees to look for, participate in and enjoy throughout the area.

“We want to encourage people to go up and down the street, to visit,” Mr Schmidt said May 2. “It was actually Mike Porco, Sr [who owns 3 Glen Road, where Duck Race Day has been presented in recent years] who suggested this get spread out across town.”

Melissa Lopato, the marketing coordinator for SHOP, said she and the members of SHOP already appreciated the Lions Club event before the new partnership was created.

“The Lions are working to spread fun throughout town,” Ms Lopato said May 2. She and Mr Schmidt sat down together that Friday afternoon to talk about the collaboration between their respective groups, and the expectations for this year’s Duck Race & Town Festival.

“It’s important for me to revitalize the downtown shopping district” of Sandy Hook, Ms Lopato said. “Main Streets are important.

“The Pootatuck Duck Race is such a great tradition,” she continued. “The Lions have created and established this feel good, family event. We are happy to host it.”

Part of the return to the festival setting is a hope that people will visit Sandy Hook Center well before the day’s highlight: the dropping of a few thousand rubber ducks from a bucket loader into the Pootatuck River from the Church Hill Road bridge. In 2012, spectators were treated to the sight of 3,805 ducks going into the river.

The first Great Pootatuck Duck Race, in 2001, was held in conjunction with a number of business owners to showcase the revitalization of Sandy Hook that was already taking place. The businesses presented a Sandy Hook Village Festival Day, with many offering specials and samples from their locations while the Lions and vendors.

“The Duck Race that year,” said Mr Schmidt, “and the first few years, was really focused in the park and on the corner of Church Hill and Washington Avenue, where we sold tickets.”

Over the years the event moved away from Church Hill Road, migrating toward the park area. The move by Lions to reconnect with the businesses in Sandy Hook began in September, when Mr Schmidt attended a SHOP meeting. It turns out, he said, everyone was trying to stay out of everyone else’s way. Both sides were just waiting for the invitation to work together on a big vacation and holiday weekend.

The return to a festival setting, said Mr Schmidt, “will help everybody.” Both groups are hoping that The Great Pootatuck Duck Race & Town Festival’s new presentation will echo that of Passport To Sandy Hook events. Held the past three Octobers, Passport encourages walking around Sandy Hook Center and checking out the businesses and special offerings in the same area that will be featured in the upcoming Duck Race. With new sidewalks and streetscaping in Sandy Hook Center, pedestrians will have an easier time than ever before when they walk between all of the locations hosting festival events on May 24.

Expanding The Great Pootatuck Duck Race back into a town festival setting has “taken a little more planning,” admitted Mr Schmidt. “It’s been a lot of work. We’ve been working with businesses, finding out where the good locations will be.”

In return, business owners, said Ms Lopato, have appreciated the effort to make sure tables, booths and tents do not interfere with traffic flow of their customers.

“They’re very cognizant of each other, and each other’s needs,” she said of the two groups.

With two stages offering entertainment, a few dozen vendors set up on sidewalks and special events taking place in the parking lots of Newtown United Methodist Church and PJ’s Laundromat, among other locations, organizers hope to see guests of all ages taking the time to stroll through the festival for a few hours prior to the actual duck race.

One stage will be set up on the sidewalk in front of Sandy Hook Hair Co. Mr Schmidt will be opening that performance area at 10 am. He will remain stationed there to introduce each subsequent performer, and also to announce specials at different locations.

“We’re going to showcase all of the wonderful stores and locations,” said Mr Schmidt. “I want to be on Church Hill Road to be able to announce everything. I think people need to discover, and rediscover, Sandy Hook Village.”

Ms Lopato concurred.

“They’re driving even more visibility to the businesses,” she said.

The second stage, set up at the park, will also open at 10 with Oscar Del Santos handling emcee duties. The Glen Road location will host performances by DJ Oscar (at 10 am), Gray’s School of Irish Dance (11:30), Newtown Juggling & Circus Arts Club (noon), Magic Marty (1 pm), students from Porco Karate Academy (1:30). Dancers from The Graceful Planet will perform at 2, leading into the big event on the Church Hill Road bridge.

At Mr Schmidt’s location, entertainment will be offered by DJ Bob; Solid Gold Times Two, an acoustic rock duo who will begin at 11 am; Not Too Late, with classic rock, at noon; and singer-songwriter Jim Allyn at 2.

Organizers promise that while The Great Pootatuck Duck Race & Town Festival may be expanding its area of presentation, all ages will still enjoy the day.

“People of any age will still be able to enjoy this great day,” said Mr Schmidt. “This isn’t something just for kids and families.”

 

Duck Race Tickets On Sale

Admission to The Great Pootatuck Duck Race & Town Festival is free. Live music and entertainment will be ongoing, and many businesses will have special offerings or tastings during the run of the festival.

Tickets for the main event — a raffle kicked off by the dumping of a few thousand rubber into the Pootatuck from the Church Hill Road bridge that spans the river — are $5 each. That’s the same price they have been since the inception of the event.

The Lions have 5,000 tickets available, and an equal number of ducks ready to go into the river should they be needed.

The ducks, numbered to correspond to the raffle tickets being sold until 1:30 that afternoon (or while supplies last), will be dropped into the river at 2:30.

Some will become caught along the banks, others may get caught up in whirls and rolling water and move out of order, but the first 20 that make it to just past the Dayton Street bridge and into a chute will earn prizes for their corresponding ticket holders. Prizes valued at more than $4,400 total will be given away this year.

First prize this year will beis $2,000.

Second prize is “Show and Go,” a combination of a show, hotel accommodations, and dinner for two.

Third is a mini iPod with case, valued at $467.

Prizes continue as follows: fourth, a three-month membership to Porco Karate Academy (valued at $450); fifth, pool pass to Treadwell Park ($214); sixth and seventh, three-month membership and training session to Club NewFit; eighth, $100 certificate to Sal e Pepe Contemporary Italian Bistro; ninth, $100 gift certificate to Figs; tenth, $50 gift certificate from Carminuccio’s Pizza;

11th prize, $50 gift certificate from The Foundry Kitchen & Tavern; 12th prize, $50 gift certificate from Tambascio’s Italian Grill; 13th prize, $50 gift certificate from Salon Michele; 14th prize, $50 gift certificate from My Place Restaurant; 15th prize, $50 gift certificate from The Villa Restaurant; 16th prize, a $42 gift certificate from Naser’s Salon; 17th prize, one-year subscription or renewal to The Newtown Bee ($42 value); 18th, $40 ticket voucher to The Little Theatre (Town Players of Newtown); 19th prize, $39.95 certificate from Berkshire Motors; and 20th prize, ten movie tickets to Edmond Town Hall Theatre ($20).

Tickets are available at a number of locations across town. Lions Club members have also been selling tickets on weekends.

In addition, most Lions Club members have tickets available to purchase. For specific locations or additional information, the public can contact Tom Evagash at 203-270-0332.

Proceeds from The Great Pootatuck Duck Race are used by the Lions Club for their charitable outreach.

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