BRISTOL - Hometown pride floated down the Pequabuck River Sunday in the form of 5,000 rubber ducks.
That’s how many the Bristol Chamber of Commerce and the Forestville Village Association made available and that’s how many were sold before the annual Pequabuck River Duck Race.
Hundreds of people crowded on the banks of the river Sunday afternoon to witness the first specks of yellow among the rushing waters of downtown Forestville. A communal cheer could be heard as the speediest contenders came into sight.
“Because of the current they came in fast,” pointed out Joan Trafford, a member of the FVA.
As a lifelong resident of the hamlet, she is proud to take part in improving Forestville through funds raised at the annual race.
“I was born and brought up in Forestville,” Trafford said. “It’s just a great place to be. It’s very homey and people are always friendly.”
Friendly until your duck beats theirs, that is.
Twenty-seven prizes were at stake, the top two $1,500 and $1,000, respectively. Local businesses also donated gift cards for winners, whose ticket numbers coincided with the first ducks to come down the river. Volunteers from Clean Harbors stood wading in the waters, holding a giant catch basin to collect them.
“Clean Harbors, members of the Chamber and members of the Village Association met this morning at 6:30 a.m. to make sure the river was clean,” said Cindy Scoville, chamber president. “Safety first,” she added.
The FVA and Chamber divide the funds raised through duck sales and filter them back into the community through scholarships, beautification projects and other events, like the Forestville Pumpkin Festival in the fall.
William Parker laughed as a disc-jockey from The River 105.9 read aloud the list of winning numbers.
“I didn’t win,” he said.
Parker took home the $1000 prize last year, which he divided up and gave to his six granddaughters.
But Sunday’s race wasn’t about winning, he pointed out.
“I’m very proud to be a Forestville resident,” he said. “It’s hometown America. Bristol’s a city. Forestville is Forestville.”
Fifty-six-year-old Andy Shorey felt the same way as he leaned over the bridge sipping a drink, watching volunteers collect ducks.
“I’ve lived in Forestville since I was four and I’ve been buying tickets ever since,” Shorey said. “I lose every year. That’s okay. It’s for the community.”
Erica Schmitt can be reached at 860-801-5097, or firstname.lastname@example.org.