Henrico County VA
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Quack attack

Ducks to rock Rocketts Aug. 11
If you’re still reeling from the region’s crazy weather extremes of the last month, better brace yourself for next week’s forecast.

On Aug. 11, Rocketts Landing will be raining ducks.

As many as 20,000 rubber ducks, in fact, will splash into the James River at the 23rd Annual Big Brothers Big Sisters Duck Race, courtesy of thousands of citizen and corporate donors who support the mentoring work of BBBS.

The owner of the lucky duck – the swift swimmer who leads the flock from the old Annabelle Lee dock starting gate to The Boathouse finish line – will take home a new Nissan Versa donated by Priority Nissan.

Among other prizes will be the chance to play Honorary Squirrel for a Day with the Richmond Flying Squirrels; outings to Busch Gardens, Dave & Busters, and Richmond International Raceway; a kayak donated by Dick’s Sporting Goods; and a burrito a week for a year at Qdoba.

Proceeds from duck sales, as always, will support BBBS programs pairing children with adult mentors in their community, which includes not only Richmond and its suburban counties but also Colonial Heights and the Tri-Cities area.

As Mark Bowen, manager of marketing and corporate relations for BBBS, pointed out recently, “We offer our [matching and mentoring services] free to the family; it doesn’t cost them a cent. But it’s not a free service to supply.”

Receiving only limited funding from government sources – such as a federal grant that helps with mentoring of military families at Ft. Lee – the growing organization relies heavily on the Duck Race, the largest of its four annual fundraisers.

Bowen, who has been making the rounds of local grocery stores and businesses to sell ducks, noted that the one-on-one relationships fostered by BBBS have been shown to lower the chances of truancy and drug use by almost half among participating children.

“So we are always looking for numbers, for more matches; but we also want quality over quantity,” Bowen said, emphasizing that long-term stability in a mentoring relationship is the ideal. “We try to keep matches together as long as we can; that makes the bigger difference in a child’s life and the bigger difference in the community overall.”

The new venue for the race and family festival, which in past years took place at Brown’s Island, represents just one of several changes that have come about as BBBS marks its 50th anniversary year in Richmond.
Thousands of these rubber ducks (pictured at a previous race at Belle Ise) will flood the James River at Rocketts Landing Aug. 11 in a charity race to benefit the local Big Brothers Big Sisters organization.

The start time of the festival, which used to be 11 a.m., has been moved back until 2 p.m. (with a duck drop time of 5 p.m.) to take advantage of cooler temperatures. The Duck Race’s social media presence has also been stepped up, with Facebook ads allowing fans to “like” the race, and Twitter updates regarding duck sales issued several times a day.

What’s more, said Bowen, BBBS is offering online duck sales for the first time ever -- and web purchases are increasing daily.

“You can go directly from the Facebook page [or BBBS home page] to buy ducks,” said Bowen, indicating that not only do online sales represent a convenience for duck buyers, but also a time saver for the staff.

With any luck, said Bowen, the internet will one day replace “retail” sites as the primary source of duck sales -- freeing staff from fundraising tasks to focus on their matching and mentoring mission.

But until then, Bowen can be found roaming the Richmond region, working up to six corporate duck sales a day. Among the Henrico businesses that have hosted sales in recent weeks are Snagajob, Richmond International Raceway, Markel, Dominion Power in Innsbrook and Quaker Steak and Lube, he said.

One of the Henrico trips Bowen relishes most, however, is set to take place August 3 at Genworth Financial – where he says he can always count on a duck-buying frenzy.

“At Genworth,” Bowen said confidently, “we’ll sell five- to six-hundred ducks in two hours.”

The 2012 Duck Race festival will take place Aug. 11 from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. at Rocketts Landing, with the duck drop taking place at 5 p.m. To purchase ducks, or to volunteer at the Duck Race, visit http://tinyurl.com/cfkutx7 or call 261-4940.


Community

Varina Ruritans honor students

The Varina Ruritan Club hosted the winners of its 2014 Environmental Essay contest at its monthly meeting March 11 in Varina.

The contest, in its eighth year, was for the first time open to students in grades 3-5 at Varina Elementary School. (It previously was open to Sandston Elementary School students.)

The meeting included the winners, parents of the winners, Varina Elementary principal Mark Tyler and several teachers who were in charge of the contest at the school. > Read more.

Baseball game to benefit Glen Allen Buddy Ball


For the fifth consecutive year, St. Christopher’s and Benedictine will play a varsity baseball game at Glen Allen's RF&P Park as part of a fundraising effort for the River City Buddy Ball program.

The game will take place Saturday, April 12, at 7 p.m., and the teams hope to raise $3,000 through donations, raffles and other efforts. Admission to the game is free, but fans who attend are asked to donate funds for the Glen Allen Youth Athletic Association's Buddy Ball program, which enables disabled children and teens to play baseball. > Read more.

Highland Springs field to be dedicated in honor of longtime coach Spears

The Henrico Division of Recreation and Parks will dedicate the Highland Springs Little League Majors Field in memory and honor of Rev. Robert “Bob” L. Spears, Jr., on April 12 with a ceremony at the field at 8 a.m.

Spears served the league as a coach and volunteer for 30 years and was praised as a pioneer for equality. His “Finish strong” motto embodied ethical perseverance on the field and in life. > Read more.

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Entertainment

A fun, fuzzy ride

‘Muppets Most Wanted’ worthy of its franchise

Do Muppets sleep? It’s hard to say.

They don’t really eat (or breathe, as far as anyone can tell). And only occasionally do they have visible, functioning legs.

As far as anyone knows, sleeping might be off the table. And that makes it very hard to accuse the Muppets of sleepwalking through their latest feature, Muppets Most Wanted – even if that’s exactly what’s going on.

Jim Henson’s beloved creations were back in a big way after 2011’s The Muppets, with fame and fortune and even an Oscar, a first for the group (“Rainbow Connection” was nominated, yet somehow failed to collect at the ’79 ceremony). > Read more.

Weekend Top 10


There’s no excuse for kids and families to not get out of the house this weekend! The Armour House and Gardens has an “Egg-celent Egg-venture” planned and Reynolds Community College will host the Reynolds Family Palooza. If you’re looking to give back to your community, Dorey Park will host Walk Like MADD and coordinators2inc will present the annual Kids Walk for Kids. And a special event for children with special needs will be on Sunday – the Caring Bunny will be at Virginia Center Commons. For all our top picks this weekend, click here! > Read more.

A new meaning for fried chicken

Is it heresy to say – in this bastion-of-tradition capital of the Old South – that it's time for Southern fried chicken to take a step back and make way for a new fried chicken king?

Count me among the new believers bowing to Bonchon Chicken's delectable double-fried bliss. Hand-brushed with signature garlic soy or hot sauce, flash-fried once and then again, the decadent drums and wings take "crisp" to a new level. If you're eating with a crowd and everyone bites in at once, be warned: you might need ear plugs to handle the din. > Read more.

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