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Brant Lake Duck Race a community tradition

Youngsters John Bahr, 4, and his brother Daniel, 2, paint pumpkins in a traditional community activity held Saturday Oct. 12 in conjunction with the annual Great Brant Lake Duck Race.

Youngsters John Bahr, 4, and his brother Daniel, 2, paint pumpkins in a traditional community activity held Saturday Oct. 12 in conjunction with the annual Great Brant Lake Duck Race. Photo by Thom Randall.

— Dozens of children sitting on the banks of the Brant Lake Mill Pond cheered Saturday Oct. 12 as hundreds of multicolored plastic ducks were dumped off the Market St. bridge into the water by Michael Ferguson of Chestertown.

The children watched as the toy ducks cascaded over the Mill Pond dam and floated through a wooden channel toward “Quackmaster” Eric Isachsen, in the bow of a canoe. With a captain’s hat perched on his head, Isachsen scooped up the ducks as they passed over a finish line.

People of all ages gathered for this traditional local rite of autumn — the great Brant Lake Duck Race.

This year’s balmy weather was favorable for the race. Last year, race officials dumped the ducks into the back of a pickup truck for retrieval. Several years ago, strong wind blew the ducks out of the channel, and the firefighters raced all over the pond in a boat attempting to round up the little plastic quackers.

This year, however, the duck race proceeded through its normal course. The race had been a favorite community event for many years, then had been abandoned for about five years in the 2000s, but was revived in 2009.

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Following tradition, Eric Isachsen scoops up ducks that cascaded over the Mill Pond Dam in the annual Great Brant Lake Duck Race held Oct. 12. Kit Isachsen, in the bow of the canoe, is ready to record the race results as area residents wait onshore for the outcome.

Minutes after the ducks were retrieved, a crowd formed at the Horicon Volunteer Fire Department, where the winners were announced.

Most of the children then walked uphill behind the Horicon Town Hall for the annual pumpkin-painting party, sponsored by the Friends of the Horicon Library. Several dozen children decorated pumpkins to take home.

Friends official Maureen Robinson planned the event, assisted by co-chair Kelly Dougan and volunteers Elva Meader, Mert Paton, Cindy Turano and Kay McKeon.

A group of volunteers — Doug Paton, Mark Lustick and Dave Holderman grilled up hot dogs for the party attendees.

Cathy Sweet of Queensbury and Brant Lake watched the volunteers circulate and attend to the youngsters while her children Ward, 11 and Jack, 7 painted pumpkins.

“Everything The Friends do for this town is a huge asset — they are wonderful,” she said. “They are like grandparents to these kids. Growing up here, I wish I had this kind of experience.”

Lacey Bahr of Pottersville watched her children John, 4 and Daniel, 2 paint designs on their pumpkins.

It’s so neat to come to Brant Lake for something like this,” she said. “To see all the families getting together — that’s the best part.”

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