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Thousands of ducks to race at Bullhole Saturday

By Lynn Wells Rumley

For the Salisbury Post

COOLEEMEE — It’s summer and people are searching out ways to beat the heat. Air conditioning is tempting. Yet, there’s nothing like water rushing over the Cooleemee Dam to refresh both body and soul.

RiverPark at Cooleemee Falls — better known as The Bullhole — has been drawing record numbers of families and nature lovers this year. Tucked away and secluded from city life, this spot has become a magnet for visitors from both the Charlotte region and the Piedmont Triad.

“RiverPark is not a place we take for granted,” says Daphne Beck, who heads up the nonprofit group that manages the park. “Cooleemee isn’t a rich community, and it takes the hard work of dedicated volunteers to keep this park alive.” Beck lives only a few houses from the river, is a town commissioner and has a day job in Salisbury overseeing Hurley Park.

So, Beck says, if you come to Cooleemee to share its hidden treasure, pitch in. You will get your chance this weekend. At 1 p.m. sharp on Saturday, thousands of tiny rubber ducks will take off near the dam to compete in the Great Bullhole Duck Race. A number on each duck corresponds to tickets purchased by a park supporter.

Buy a ticket. You don’t need to be there to win. Join us if you want a big laugh. But don’t be late — it’s all over in a matter of minutes.

There’s more race money to be won this year. The first place winner can now haul off $500 for a $5 investment. Second place is $250 and third place is $100 cash.

Water has been flowing over the dam for several months now at the Bullhole, so the race is expected to be even quicker than usual. Plan to come at noon for a hot dog, cold drink and a 2016 Duck Race Day T-shirt.

The Duck Race is professionally run by the O’Neal family race team. Cooleemee natives for six generations, the O’Neals are steeped in knowledge of the river.

Duck tickets are $5 each. A “Quack Pack” of six tickets is $25 and a “Flock” is $50 for 15. You do not need to be present to win but you must present your winning ticket to receive a prize.

Tickets can be purchased at Village Auto, Davie Discount Drugs, the Zachary House and Town Hall in Cooleemee; in Mocksville at the Davie Chamber of Commerce; and in Salisbury at the Gateway Center.

Never been to the Bullhole? From U.S 70, take N.C. 801 to Needmore Road in Woodleaf and turn left. Make an immediate right on Erwin Temple Church Road, which ends at the park.

The park opens at 8 a.m. and closes at sunset. Duck tickets will be sold on site until 12:30 p.m. The race begins 1 p.m.

All proceeds from the event go to keep RiverPark open, clean and safe. Contributions are always welcome and are tax deductible. They may be sent to PO Box 735, Cooleemee, NC 27014. The large picnic shelter is available for rentals. For more information, call 336-284-6040.

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