By Nathan Ham
After a year off from competition, the rubber ducks were eager to race once again during the Independence Day weekend in Banner Elk.
The weekend was kicked off by the annual 4th of July Parade followed by the Kiwanis Club of Banner Elk’s Party in the Park and accompanying Duck Races at Tate-Evans Park.
“It was exciting for Kiwanis to have the opportunity to raise some funds. After coming out of the pandemic, it was good to get back into a more normal swing of things. Thousands of people were in downtown Banner Elk,” said Jim Swinkola, who helped organize the duck races along with his wife, Ann. “People were lined up on each side of the road probably eight to ten rows deep for the parade. It was good to see downtown Banner Elk alive with folks who were there to celebrate the 4th of July.”
This year, the duck races expanded to include prizes awarded for best-dressed ducks and tickets for the event were small toy ducks instead of the usual paper ticket.
“It’s a good feeling to raise the money, to be back out there and it’s a good feeling to be part of a project that is so much fun,” Ann Swinkola said.
The Party in the Park is the first major summer fundraiser for the Kiwanis Club.
“What Kiwanis does during this time period is raise money and the duck races were the first event. There is also a crew working at the Highland Games this weekend selling programs and the third event is the Woolly Worm Festival. We take all of those proceeds together and we accept grant applications from throughout the community and they come in fast and furious usually. The ones that affect children and families are the ones we typically give to. In the past years, we have been giving out about $50,000 in proceeds from those three events,” Ann said. “This particular event is going to end up bringing in just over $10,000 but we have not received the final bills and some outstanding money has yet to come in.”