Carbondale readies for first ‘Running of the Balls’ |

Carbondale readies for first ‘Running of the Balls’

Kyle Mills
Rotary Club of Carbondale President Alan Cole and club members Frank McSwain and Jack Brendlinger pose outside of Ace Hardware with their promotional sign for the inaugural running of the Balls event Sept. 7.
Megan Tackett/Sopris Sun | Megan Tackett/Sopris Sun

A strange occurrence will happen in Carbondale the first Friday of September.

Around a hundred two-foot in diameter rubber balls will be blown by high-powered fans and leaf blowers, rolling and bouncing down Main Street at 6:30 p.m. Sept. 7 as part of a fundraiser put on by the Rotary Club of Carbondale.

“I think it’s going to generate a whole bunch of interest,” said Alan Cole, this year’s Carbondale Rotary Club president, of the fundraiser that’s being held in conjunction with Carbondale’s usual First Friday festivities.

A grand prize of $5,000 will be on the line, along with secondary prizes including a two-night stay for two at the Gant in Aspen and a two-night stay for up to six people at a casita at Terrenea Resort in Rancho Palos Verdes, California.

In years past, the roughly 35 members of the all-volunteer organization hosted an evening event called The Happening, usually involving a dinner, live music and a silent auction to raise money in support of its community and international service work.

“We were looking for something different and exciting, and one of our honorary members Jack Brendlinger rolled the idea out to the club, and it sounded like fun,” Cole said.

Brendlinger, a former president of the Rotary Club of Aspen who started the Ducky Derby there, came up with the ball race idea during his tenure in Aspen. Other clubs around the district have taken the ball and run with it, so to speak, holding wintertime ball races down ski slopes and other variations.

“They were searching for something new, I presented the idea that I had run in Aspen in the late ’90s; called the red ball express,” Brendlinger said.

The Carbondale club went through a few names before landing on Running of the Balls, after Spain’s Running of the Bulls in Pamplona.

“I’m trying to encourage all volunteers to wear white shirts and red bandanas,” Brendlinger said.

Two blocks of Main Street will be locked off between Third Street and Weant Boulevard.

“We have 230 barricades that we will line Main Street with to keep the balls on course,” Brendlinger said. “It’s a big project, four months of planning, we need quite a few volunteers.”

Anybody who would like to volunteer can call Brendlinger at 970-963-8076.

Each ball will have several numbers generated anonymously by computer. Each ticket sold will have two numbers that will be associated with the numbers on the balls, which are assigned by computer just before the race.

At the end of the street course there will be a trap. The first two balls in will determine who the lucky winner is.

Rotarians are selling adopt a ball tickets now, $10 for one ticket, $20 for three tickets, $30 for five tickets, $50 for 10 tickets and $100 for 25 tickets. The number of balls that will be released will be decided on how many tickets are sold.

Tickets also can be purchased at the Rotary table outside City Market in Carbondale and Ace Hardware of Carbondale. They also can be obtained from club members and members of the sister Carbondale club, Mount Sopris Rotary, and various youth groups including SoL Theater, Ascendigo and YouthZone.

Tickets will be available for sale up to about 30 minutes before race time at 6:30 p.m.

The balls will be aired up at the fire station in Carbondale and transported to Main Street with two large dump trucks.

Other events next Friday will include a fun run for the smaller kids age 6 and younger, a Rotary parade down Main Street and a carnival with contests and kids games in the Fourth Street Plaza.

The Rotary Club of Carbondale charter dates back to 1987 and is part of Rotary International, a worldwide service organization with 1.2 million members.

Service Above Self is the Rotary’s motto. The many service projects the club is involved in include giving out dictionaries to Carbondale third graders every year and handing out $10,000 in scholarships to local high school seniors every year.

“One-hundred percent of the ticket sales will go toward good causes,” Brendlinger said.

Thanks to title sponsor Ace Hardware, and other sponsors including Alpine Bank, Heartland Environmental Services, LLC, ANB Bank and John and Judy Craig with Eliminate Poverty Now, all expenses for the event have been paid.

“We welcome everybody to join us on First Friday in Carbondale,” Cole said.

“It’s a chance for us to get in front of the community in a way we have never done in the past.”

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