Kiwanis Ball Race gets a lift this year
The Glenwood Kiwanis Club Ball Race won’t be the same old thing this year.
“What we’re trying to do this year is jazz it up,” said Bob Littler, race committee chair.
First, some background. The club is preparing for its 13th annual Ball Race on June 21 with all the proceeds going to youth projects in the community.
The race, which starts at 2:30 p.m. on Hyland Park Drive and Blake Avenue, aims to surpass last year’s record haul of $14,000 to $16,000. The event used to take place on Eighth Street, but was moved to Hyland to tie in with Strawberry Days.
The Kiwanis already have their most sponsors in several years and have raised more than $10,000 through sponsorships.
Dan LeVan, a member of the Kiwanis for six years and president-elect, said the race and the club’s Pancake Breakfast are the group’s two big fundraisers of the year, so members push the race hard to get people involved.
LeVan said he gets involved because of the value of providing scholarships and safety fairs for young people.
“Just doing service projects gives you a good feeling … makes you want to do more,” LeVan said.
Now the new part.
In previous years, the colorful balls were dropped onto the street from an elevated platform or a dump truck, but Littler, who is an engineer, is bringing his expertise to bear on a new design.
Littler referred to the new approach as the “high lift ball drop.” A truck will elevate the 5,000 balls in a bag 15 feet into the air with a ripcord to drop them onto North Hyland.
Then, on each side of the road are wooden panels to keep the balls in line and people alongside with leaf blowers keep them moving.
“We have brooms to sweep them back into the track,” LeVan said.
One ball ticket is $5. For $20, a person can purchase a ticket worth five balls. Each ball has a number assigned to it, which is then entered into a spreadsheet.
There’s never been an instance of fraud or a missing ball in the race’s history because the person buying the ball won’t know the number in advance.
First-place winner will receive $2,500, then $1,000 and $500, respectively, for second and third place. There are 20 other prizes involved, too.
On June 9, the Kiwanis met at Veltus Park, also known as Kiwanis Park, like they do every Tuesday. This week, they were busy peeling old numbers from the balls and replacing them with new numbers. A long line of boxes filled with balls awaited this process.
Boxes of pizza nearby and plentiful jokes kept the energy up.
“I think it’s a wonderful organization that gives back to the community,” Littler said.
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