I really like this gig I have here with Citizen’s News. I get to scrape up some jack by going to my old stomping grounds at Woodland and watching some games for free. I get called “famous” by the people—specifically, Mrs. Abney—working the gates at these games. I get press releases from town politicians … before they hit the press.
But there’s one thing about this job that I really like—some of my assignments. I hear about my first story all the time. You remember: I tried out for the Woodland girls’ volleyball team last summer (in case you didn’t know, I didn’t do that on my own), a brutal endeavor whose effects I felt for several days. Now, in year two of work here at CN, my next awesomely-interactive mission was to participate in the Beacon Falls Duck Scavenger Hunt.
I knew this escapade was on the horizon a few weeks ago when I first heard about the hunt while emceeing the 11th annual River Fest and Duck Race. I thought about giving the it a whirl myself but decided I was far too mature for such a childish way to spend a few hours.
If I’ve matured in one way during my time here at Citizen’s, it’s this: You’re never too mature to take an assignment that will make you the laughingstock of town, as long as there’s some dime waiting afterward.
So, Sunday morning, I had two choices: Begin reading the 100-plus pages I needed to have done for my classes at Quinnipiac University or load up my 1992 Mercury Sable station wagon and hit the road. By the simple fact that this column exists, I guess you see which option won.
The gist of the adventure was not all that complex. The goal of the scavenger hunt was to search the town for 21 obnoxiously big, ornate, colorful, fiberglass ducks, each of which was purchased for $150 prior to the River Fest by local businesses, organizations, and individuals. After they were displayed for a week on North Main Street’s median, the ducks were scattered around town by their owners. My job? Find them all, answer the accompanying questions, and return my results to Town Hall by Nov. 2 to perhaps earn myself a prize.
“Piece of cake,” I thought. I’ve lived in Beacon Falls the duration of my long, storied, 18-year life and prefer to think I know its roads and businesses like the back of my hand. In fact, at the end of the summer, I rounded up some fellas and attempted to drive on all 130-plus roads in town in a day. That mission was cut short after my brakes almost caught fire 30 streets into the adventure—I’ll do it eventually.
Using my geographical expertise, my shotgunner, Craig Genz, and I embarked on what would be a two-hour trip (yes, it is possible to be in a car in Beacon Falls for two hours without leaving its borders). I had done a little scouting Saturday night and knew the locations of approximately 13 ducks. I wanted to sniff out the other eight and be crowned grand champion.
We discovered our first duck about 10 minutes into the largest game of duck, duck, goose ever played. It was in a residential neighborhood (a free hint to my competitors). Since I already knew where 13 were, we tried to guess where the others could be hiding. I don’t want to ruin the game for my fellow Beacon Fallers (by the way, I want to know what a Beacon Falls resident is called), but the following are examples of what not to do:
First, there are no ducks at the newly-dedicated Toby’s Pond (formerly O & G Pond) off Lopus Road. We followed a muddy gravel road at least a mile and a half before we realized we had reached the end of the pond and were nearly riding on train tracks. I threw the filthy wagon into reverse and got out of Dodge. The train came roaring by no more than two minutes later. Phew.
Second, there are no ducks in the Murtha Industrial Park down Railroad Avenue. I always enjoyed exploring that area in my younger days with my dad, and we never got in trouble for it. Sunday, I got pulled over for being there.
Officer: “What are you doing down here? This is private property.”
Me: “Well, I’m with Citizen’s News, and I’m participating in the Duck Scavenger Hunt. Just seeing if any of the Murtha companies bought a duck.”
Now-bewildered officer: “Can I see your I.D.?”
Me: “Sure … A lot of area businesses bought ducks, so I was just checking it out down here.”
Officer, realizing he just wasted his time: “See ya.”
Third, if you’re going to stop on the side of the road to visit a duck, make sure you actually pull over to the shoulder, put on your signal light, and close the door. The Town of Beacon Falls is not responsible for any damages incurred while satisfying your desire to locate oversized fake birds.
Of course, locating the ducks is the easy part. Answering the questions is far harder. For example, why would any Beacon Falls resident know who the president of the United States is? Who cares what the name of Woodland’s football team is? Honestly, though, some of the questions are a little tricky. Only a real Beacon Fallonian (again, I need to check that) will know all 21 answers.
Now, I know you all want to know the gold standard of the competition—how Craig and I did. Well, we found 16 ducks, missing numbers one, five, 14, 16, and 20. I was told by First Selectman Susan Cable and her administrative assistant, Karen Wilson, that all 21 might not be out, as a few of the orders were mixed up.
Without a doubt, I recommend giving this a go. Set aside an hour or two this weekend to take a ride on the town and see what you can do. Besides, there is $180 worth of prizes up for grabs for the participants who answer the most questions correctly and return them to Town Hall by Monday.
So, I’ve got a feeling I’ve got the clubhouse lead. I’m challenging you to beat me. I don’t think you can. I don’t think you’ve got what it takes to sit in your car and scour the town for attractive hunks of fiberglass for the better part of a Sunday morning like I did. Until I hear somebody bested my performance, I’ll assume I had the best pro-duck-tion. (You knew the duck pun was coming sooner or later.)