By Robin GOLDSWORTHY
Verdugo Park in Glendale was full of duck and dog fanciers on Saturday when the community came out to the 10th Annual Kiwanis Incredible Duck Splash and the 6th Annual K-9s in the Park.
Things kicked off at 10 a.m. when the Kiwanis Club of Glendale welcomed guests to the K.I.D.S. event. Attendees had the chance to play a variety of games at booths hosted by members of local school clubs. Jen Swain of Digital Orange lent her talents as a face painter to the delight of the children. Live music was ongoing courtesy of Michael Quest. When hunger pains hit, the Jewel City Kiwanis was ready with freshly grilled burgers and hot dogs.
K.I.D.S. is one of the largest fundraisers for the Kiwanis Club of Glendale said club President Todd Hunt. Hunt added that not only does the Kiwanis Club benefit from the event; the popular Duck Buddy program gives non-profit organizations the chance to raise money for their group as well.
“Half of the $5 duck adoption fee collected goes back to the non-profit that sold the duck,” Hunt said. The other half goes to the Kiwanis, which in turn supports local non-profits. This year, just over 18,000 ducks were adopted. Over $25,000 will be distributed to Duck Buddy groups.
The ducks “race” in a series of heats in a manmade, temporary “lake” provided by the Glendale Fire Dept. People crowded around the sides of “Lake Glendale” before each heat, cheering on the thousands of ducks that make their way down the waterway. At the bottom is a collection pond where “Golden Retrievers,” students from Fremont Elementary School, Rosemont Middle School and other schools and Boy Scouts from troop 125, gather up the spent fowl and prepare for the next heat.
The races are not just for fun; big prizes are awarded for the winning ducks. This year, Ron Rothacher won the grand prize of $10,000 and the number one Duck Buddy was Delphi Academy, which sold a whopping 4827 ducks.
This year’s event ended a little differently with Hunt inviting fellow Kiwanians and anyone else in the audience to come forward to sing a rendition of “You Are My Sunshine” dedicated to his second cousin who is battling cancer.
Above all, the annual K.I.D.S. event is a chance to celebrate.
“This is what the spirit of Kiwanis is all about,” Hunt said. “The community coming together. For me, it’s a real joy.”
Across the park, the annual K-9s in the Park hosted plenty of families and their dogs. Attendees could have their photo taken with one of Glendale Police Dept.’s K-9 Units, climb a rock wall or clock the speed of their dog. Vaccinations and micro-chipping were also available at a discounted price and there were chances to win an iPad Air.
Especially popular were K-9 Unit demonstrations. These live demonstrations showed the intensity of the dogs’ training and the dedication of their officer partners.
Roaming balloon artist Scott “The Great Scott” Whitesell gave out balloon creations for kids to take home.
The canines and their handlers have all attended specialized training including explosive detection school, narcotics detection school and hard surface tracking school where they learned to track suspects and missing persons on concrete, asphalt, and other hard materials that don’t hold scent as well as softer surfaces do, such as grass.
According to the Glendale Police Foundation website, the average dog will be in service for five years and then needs to be replaced. Each dog will cost $50,000 in training and supplies over the service lifetime of the dog. All training, food, and equipment for the dogs is provided by donations from the community to the Glendale Police Foundation, a non-profit organization that helps the police department attain equipment, training, and dogs.
To make a donation, mail to the Glendale Police Foundation, 131 N. Isabel St. Glendale, CA 91206 and indicate K-9 Unit in the memo section or call (818) 548-4840.