ARLINGTON — The Great Stilly Duck Dash will be ringing in its 25th anniversary this year, and 2013 Duck Dash Chair Cindy Huleatt was joined by Arlington Rotary President Linda Byrnes in commending the community for keeping the annual Fourth of July fundraiser going strong, at the same time that they encouraged Arlington-Smokey Point Chamber of Commerce members to continue supporting the event.
“I moved here 25 years ago, when my son was just a tiny baby,” Huleatt said during the Chamber’s March 12 luncheon. “He’s 26 years old now. Don Richards was our first duck.”
Huleatt also recalled how the Duck Dash has expanded from 5,059 rubber ducks at its outset in 1989, to roughly 13,000 now, through which the Rotary aims to award $7,500 in prizes and $65,000 in funds raised that will be reinvested in the Arlington community.
“Those of you who have supported us over the years have given not just your money, but your time,” Huleatt said. “It’s been weird and fun, with never a dull moment. Dave Duskin even gave up his finger for the Duck Dash in 1990, when it got caught between a rope and the boat.”
Of the nearly $1 million in revenue that the Duck Dash has raised in that time, Huleatt noted that about $30,000 went to Arlington Kids’ Kloset alone, which she added could buy 800 new shoes, while $25,000 went to the local Boy Scout troop, much of it to purchase supplies for shelters that Rotary members helped the Scouts build.
“This year, we’re looking to make it extra special, so our goal is to raise $25,000 for 25 years,” said Huleatt, who explained that the Rotary not only wants to be able to maintain funding for all of its regular annual recipients, but also raise enough money to re-site Haller Park on slightly higher ground, with a nicer playground structure, so that it’s not just sitting in the flood zone. “We’re still committed to funding groups like the Boys & Girls Club for their community room and a bigger gym. We don’t want to quit funding anyone else as a result of improving Haller Park.”
Byrnes elaborated that a new wrinkle of this year’s Duck Dash will be the additional appreciation shown to sponsors who will receive recognition on a sponsors’ wall for the new Haller Park, although much like the eventual design of the improved park itself, she avoided offering specifics on how exactly the sponsors’ wall might look. Byrnes emphasized that private individuals would be eligible for named recognition, in addition to businesses.
“On your tables today, you’ll also notice that there are dirty ducks,” Byrnes said of the rubber ducks that had been floated down the river as part of previous years’ Duck Dashes. “It reminds me of the used baseballs that wind up as memorabilia. If you’re a Duck Dash sponsor, go ahead and take one of those ducks with you.”