Fenton Freedom Festival includes parade, rubber duck race - ABC 12 – WJRT – Flint, MI

Fenton Freedom Festival includes parade, rubber duck race

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FENTON (WJRT) - (07/04/14) - Thousands of people were in Fenton Friday to celebrate all things red, white and blue.

The Fenton Freedom Festival started with a pancake breakfast, followed by a 5K fun run and walk.

Not long after the runners and walkers crossed the finish line, the main attraction got underway.

Near the beginning of the parade was a marching band.

There were even superheroes, like Batman. But that's not the kind of hero everyone came to celebrate.

"I treated the soldiers on the battlefield. Everywhere they went, I went. And I got shot twice," said Glen Vandivier, a World War II veteran who served as an Army medic.

Vandivier and his wife Betty were among the thousands who came to remember why we mark the holiday. "Happy that we're in this kind of a country. We have freedom."

Mike McNamara is thankful for veterans like Vandivier, and the hard working people making a difference right here at home. "I believe in supporting American manufacturing, so anything I can do to help out with that, I do it."

Speaking of hard work, it paid off for Victor Lukasavitz and his grandson Carter. They won "Best of Show" for their patriotic bike.

"What went into it? About six hours of work," Victor Lukasavitz said.

But the grandfather and grandson admit they got some help. "My grandma did most of the work," Carter Lukasavitiz said.

Organizers tell us more than 130 entries were in this year's parade, making it one of the largest parades ever.

As we could see from our view hit atop the Fenton Fire Hall restaurant, the crowd along the 1.7 mile parade route was pretty big too.  

"Happy we have the freedom we do," McNamara said.

After the parade, there was a pretty "intense" competition.

The twenty-sixth annual "Rubber Duck Regatta" took over the Shiawassee River.

It's a Fourth of July tradition.

"It's our largest fundraiser," said Steve Bliss, a Fenton Rotary member.

The Fenton Rotary charges $10 for one duck. "You can win $1,000 for first prize," Bliss said.

So this really is serious business.

"We started at the Mill Pond and followed it all the way down," spectator Jennifer Scully said.

Like any race, people cheer on their favorite and closely watch the competition.

Rotarian Steve Bliss remembers their humble beginnings. "And half of them would be scattered all over the river, all over the place. Now we've gone high tech. We've got ropes all the way down."

As the race grows, so does Rotary's support for the community.

"Of course we support all of the local schools. We have a program for senior citizens, local park here, Bush Park here in Fenton is really Rotary Park," Bliss said.

While most enjoy this friendly race, not everyone thinks it's "just ducky". A real-life duck didn't like all the competition and swam away.

But little Paige Scully enjoyed it, and won.

"My daughter's won twice, two years in a row," Jennifer Scully said.

Paige took home $100, and already has plans to spend it. "A hammock," is what Paige Scully said she planned to buy.

Paige's mom Jennifer says the entire event is a win-win. "It's just important to support your community and the organizations that do and teach your children to do the same."

"We raise about $25-30,000 every year in our two events, and 100 percent of it goes back to the community," Bliss said.

A ticket sold to Judy's Barbershop won the $1,000 grand prize.
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