Community News & Events

The Great Pumpkin Regatta 2010

On your mark, get set, GO!

Once again, we paddled in the Great Pumpkin Regatta, a fundraiser for the Pilot Program, administered by Linking Learning to Life. This year's event raised $21,000!

A shout out to our friend, Kurt Johnson, as paddler number 2. Thanks, you did a great job! Kurt is no stranger to community involvement: he serves as a Boy Scout Troop leader in Underhill/Jericho. Now he can add pumpkin paddling to his list of water sports expertise.

Here's a lengthy video, complete with shameless marketing footage:

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The Giant Pumpkins Are Back, and So Is the Giant Pumpkin Regatta!

It’s starting to smell ‘pumpkiny’ out there! Not to mention our precious sun is going down earlier and earlier…fall is just days away! Luckily, Linking Learning to Life is staying busy with the start of our programs and planning for the 3rd Annual NEFCU Giant Pumpkin Regatta & Festival! Oh, it’s back and bigger than before, so save the date:

When:  Sunday, October 10th from 10-3…races begin at noon
Where: Burlington Waterfront Park
What: Pumpkin Regatta with lots of laughs and a fall festival including food and craft vendors, a tent full of kids activities, old school potato sack races, pet costume contest, pie eating contests, giant pumpkin photo ops, bounce castles, and more!
Rain or Shine? Both! So wear warm clothes! It can be brisk out there in October…

We are lucky to have the ongoing support of businesses like Sign-A-Rama to make this fundraiser a success. Last year we were able to raise $17,000 to help fund our youth leadership program, PILOT.  This year, our goal is $20,000 and we just may have surpassed that with the huge response from the business community wanting to sponsor and race giant pumpkins!

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Along with sponsors, we will have your favorite local celebrities racing…WPTZ’s Tom Messner. . .SevenDays’ Lauren Ober . . .UVM Coach Mike Lonergan . . .Fox 44’s Kerrin Jeromin . . .just to name a few! So get to the Burlington Waterfront on the 10th to support Linking Learning to Life and dress warm!

 

How do you paddle a pumpkin anyway?

With great care. And that's exactly what everyone did today at the Giant Pumpkin Regatta on the waterfront in Burlington, Vermont today.

posing with our pumpkinThe day started out rainy, cold and very windy. In fact, the lake was sporting white caps when Bob  and I showed up at 9:30 this morning. By 10:30, the sky was clear, and the temperature was comfortable. The sun brought people out in droves--news reports estimate 3,000 people--to what is unquestionably the silliest but most fun event around: The Giant Pumpkin Regatta.

Pirates, princesses, an aging hippie, and a few Ghostbusters (wearing ghostbuster backpacks) showed up, along with many other costumed competitors.

We decorated our pumpkin with a little blue and red paint, but kept the signs to a minimum: only three pennants. Next year? A vehicle wrap.

The New England Federal Credit Union painted their pumpkin gold and added what looked like an hommage to Harry Potter: a Snitch ball on one side and a witch's broom on the other. NEFCU's pilot was skilled and won our race. We came in third, if you don't count the poor chap who capsized and swam his pumpkin just ahead of us to the finish line.

paddling awayKudos to the staffs of the Lake Champlain Regional Chamber of Commerce and Linking Learning to Life (LLL) and to all of the good-hearted sponsors, students, and local celebrities who willingly climbed into a several-hundred pound pumpkin and paddled about in Lake Champlain.

The proceeds of this event fund the PILOT Program, which is administered by the chamber and their partner, LLL. The program selects youth who are deemed eligible, and through leadership training, provide them with leadership skills that they can use to make a positive difference in their communities.

We want to acknowledge Dan who raised our pumpkin from seed. A member of the Giant Vegetable Grower's Association, he was the second leg of our 3-person team. Dan piloted his pumpkin with great finesse. Thank you!

Here's a short video of us waiting for the high sign from officials. You can see how many people showed up today just by the cluster of people around us. And that was only on the dock.

Welcome Home, Captain

It's been a horrific several days for Richard Phillips and his family. He is the sea captain taken into captivity last Wednesday by Somali pirates and rescued on Easter Sunday.

Our little town of Underhill, where Richard lives, has stood by its neighbor and friend while wondering how this event happening half way around the world could possibly have included one of our own.

To ease the anxiety, residents adorned their village with yellow ribbons and signs with messages of hope for his safe return. The news media set up camp outside the Phillips' home, and then moved to the village center where people gather for church services and purchase pizzas and groceries from one of the two general stores.

On Sunday, the good news arrived. With typical Vermont fickleness, temperatures hovered in the 30's and it snowed, but for the Phillips family, there were two reasons for celebration on Easter day.  

Everyone here is ready for the return of its captain, father of two, husband and private citizen. Perhaps the bigger lesson from this staggering event, outside of world politics, is that it only takes a moment for the entire world to change, even when you're from a small town.

This Winter, Don't Forget the Pets

Miss Pearl
Miss Pearl, an adoptee from the Humane Society of Chittenden County

I asked my colleague, Susan Daffron from Idaho (another cold-weather state!), to write about members of our society who have no speaking voice, but who rely on the kindness of strangers, especially during these recessionary times:

Across the country, shelters are seeing more animals being dropped off because owners can no longer afford to care for them. At the same time, adoption statistics have also dropped in many areas. The result? Many shelters are filled beyond capacity.

Animals are given up because people have to move. Although "moving" has always been among the top reasons for pet relinquishment, now pets are often victims of foreclosure. In fact, one of my recent radio shows was about a dog named Latte who was taken in by a rescue group after his owners abandoned him. He was simply left alone when the house he was living in was foreclosed upon.

Many people can't imagine just leaving a pet in an empty house, but it's more common than you may think. Already overcrowded shelters are seeing an increase in anonymous drop offs. Some people are embarrassed to say that they can no longer afford to feed their pets and animal shelters that are full often refuse admissions, so people simply dump the animal. Employees come in to work and discover a dog tied to a gate or a cat in a carrier sitting on the doorstep.

Giving up the family pet to a shelter or rescue should be an absolute last resort. The reality is that the dog or cat may not get a new home. Shelters in many areas are reporting higher euthanasia statistics as a result of decreasing adoption rates and increasing incoming rates.

People facing financial issues do have options to help them avoid giving up their pets. In some areas, people in need receive free pet food from food banks or even animal shelters. Many humane organizations receive donated food, and if there is extra, they either work with a food pantry or distribute it themselves to needy pet owners.

The Humane Society of the United States has also created a Foreclosure and Financial Crisis Pet Fund, which offers grants to animal shelters and rescue groups so they can launch or expand local programs to help people in danger of surrendering their pets for financial reasons.

If the pundits are correct, it's unlikely the economy is going to get better any time soon. If you have the means, consider donating to or volunteering at your local animal shelter. And if you are considering adding a pet to your life, please consider the adoption option and save a life!

Susan Daffron is the founder of the National Association of Pet Rescue Professionals and the author of books on caring for adopted dogs and cats called Happy Hound and Happy Tabby.

Readers, please note: Ellen Goodman, Development Coordinator at The Humane Society of Chittenden County, told us that they gladly accept donations of high quality pet food and litter. Please go to their site and view their Wish List, which includes these requests and others that keep the shelter doing what they do best: Caring for homeless pets while the shelter arranges their adoptions.

If you live outside the Chittenden County area, please contact your local Humane Society to see if they accept donations, too.

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