3rd annual Ducky
No. 105, $750
No. 309, $500
No. 173, $250
Al Shepherd, Craig Lions Club president, stood amid a small crowd on the rocky banks of the Yampa River and stared into the choppy water below.
“We’ve never had a wind like this,” Shepherd said. “We’re not even sure if they’re going to get here.”
Shepherd was speaking of the 370 rubber ducks that had been released upriver from Loudy-Simpson Park and were buffeted by strong headwinds Saturday. The rubber ducks were part of Craig Lions Club’s third annual fundraising Ducky Race.
In the weeks leading up to the event, Lions Club members sold $8 raffle tickets to area residents. Each ticket’s number corresponded to a rubber duck that would later be released into the river. The first three ducks to cross the finish line at Loudy-Simpson Park entitled ticket holders to a cash prize.
The fundraiser, Shepherd said, was for the Craig Lions Club’s effort to provide vision correction to area youths.
“This is done to buy eyeglasses for needy children,” Shepherd said. “We also do eye screenings for each child. We try to locate any problems with their eyes before they get into school. We’re finding about 10 percent of the kids have (eyesight) problems.”
Shepherd estimated that the group screens 600 to 700 children per year.
The wind in Craig at the time of the event was a steady 10 miles per hour with gusts up to 22 miles per hour, according to the National Weather Service.
Despite this, three plucky duckys slowly crossed the finish line at about 12:15 p.m., 15 minutes after they’d been dropped from the South Ranney Street bridge.
Craig Lions Club member Jim Meineke stood in waist-deep water to collect the finishers.
“It was really nice out there,” Meineke said of the water temperature. “It wasn’t bad at all.”
After the first three ducks crossed the finish line, Meineke and five fellow Lions and
volunteers waded upstream to collect the slow-moving toys.
Meineke said some of the ducks had been driven back to the bridge, but he eventually collected them all.
The winning tickets belonged to Charlene McGilton, Cindel Nielson and Vickie Warren, who won $750, $500 and $250, respectively. McGilton, Nielson and Warren weren’t present for the event.
Meineke said he wanted to congratulate the winners as well as to thank everyone who purchased a ticket.
“All that money stays in this community, and that’s where it’s all spent,” Meineke said.
Shepherd said next year’s race may begin earlier in the day.
“I think we’ll do it at 10 (a.m.), before the wind picks up,” Shepherd said.