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Same Location, Same Ticket Price, One Big Change For Great Pootatuck Duck Race



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After 19 years of presenting The Great Pootatuck Duck Race on the Saturday of Memorial Day weekend, Newtown Lions Club has announced a change.

This year’s event will be Saturday, May 30 — the weekend after the unofficial kickoff of summer.

Bob Schmidt, who has chaired the event for the past 11 years, said the date change came for a few reasons.

The biggest reason is to make the event even more family friendly than it has been since its debut in 2001, he said. Newtown has for decades hosted a weekend-long soccer tournament, which pulls many local families into the mix of competition.

“There are many children’s soccer games going on Memorial Day weekend,” Mr Schmidt said. “That prevents many children and families from coming to the Duck Race.”

Travel plans have also meant many have missed the event over the years.

“Many families are away Memorial Day weekend,” he added.

One more change: The activities hosted by The Great Pootatuck Duck Race — the bounce house, the inflatable slide, and games — will all be free of charge this year.

Race Day also features booths and displays by local organizations and businesses, representation by local first responders, and plenty of food options.

The stage in the Glen Road park is also utilized, with singers, dancers, karate students, and others offering ongoing entertainment.

In addition to moving the event out one week, Mr Schmidt pointed out a new start time and a new time for the ducks to be dropped into the river.

“We noticed that most people don’t come to the race until 11, so we made that the new starting time,” he said. “We changed dropping of the duck time to 3 instead of 2:30 because it’s just easier to remember.”

Finally, the changes came down to one more thing, according to the event chair.

“Coupled with the fact that this is our 20th anniversary duck race, we thought we’d make things a little different,” Mr Schmidt said.

Duck Race Day

Two things that will not be changing this year: The Great Pootatuck Duck Race will again be based at the park at 5 Glen Road in Sandy Hook Center, and ticket prices will remain $5 each.

The public is invited to purchase raffle tickets, which correspond to numbers on rubber ducks that are dropped into the Pootatuck River. The first 20 ducks to cross the finish line win prizes for those holding the corresponding tickets.

Local businesses, organizations, and residents have donated prizes in the past. In recent years the top prizes have been cash payouts; the first prize for 2019 was a $2,000 check.

Mr Schmidt expects tickets for 2020 to go on sale Friday, April 3, at Carminuccio’s Pizza, 76 South Main Street, and My Place Restaurant, 8 Queen Street.

“The ticket booths will be set up at 5:30,” he said for those who want to be the first to wade into raffle ticket sales.

On April 4 and 5, tables will be set up outside Stop & Shop in Sand Hill Plaza, 228 South Main Street, and outside Bagel Delight, 34 Church Hill Road.

“Every weekend after that there will be tickets sold from Friday evening until Sunday afternoon at various places around town,” Mr Schmidt said last week.

Tickets will also be available from members directly, and from many businesses during regular work hours. Final ticket sales will be done the day of the race.

For additional information, visit newtownlions.com or contact Bob Schmidt at serenitysh@aol.com.

People of all ages gather along the banks and on the Church Hill Road bridge over the Pootatuck River on May 25, 2019, watching 3,003 rubber ducks make their way toward the finish line during The Great Pootatuck Duck Race. After 19 years of being presented on the Saturday of Memorial Day weekend, the event is moving out one week this year, to the weekend after the unofficial start of summer. —Bee file photo
Selling some of the final tickets for last year’s Great Pootatuck Duck Race were, from left, Newtown Lions Club members Walt Schweikert, Dick Kovacs, and Ray Keegan. Event Chair Bob Schmidt expects this year’s tickets to go on sale Friday, April 3.—Bee file photo
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