By Ed Karvoski Jr., Contributing Writer
Hudson – An already full day of activities will expand geographically Saturday, June 10, at 8:30 a.m., with the first Trooper Thomas Clardy Memorial Run/Walk kicking off the 31st annual Hudson Community Fest in conjunction with the 27th annual Lucky Duck Race.
Observing the festival’s three-decade evolution firsthand is the event chair since its inception Sarah Cressy, president and CEO of the Assabet Valley Chamber of Commerce.
“With any community event, you want to create opportunities for different local organizations,” she said. “Hudson Fest has about 40 nonprofits participating.”
Cressy began Hudson Fest in 1987 with 20 vendors on the Town Hall grounds. A few years later, she added more vendors on Church Street. When Cellucci Park opened in 2008, the festivities’ hub moved to South Street.
This year, Hudson Fest will begin at 9 a.m. with Symphony Pro Music Brass Ensemble performing from the gazebo at Cellucci Park. Among 13 acts scheduled on two stages are the River’s Edge Arts Alliance and the Hudson High School (HHS) a cappella group Camerata.
Festival-goers can browse among 125 vendors up to 3:30 p.m. A food court will satisfy appetites with local favorites including Horseshoe Pub & Restaurant and New City Microcreamery. Children can pet animals from several nonprofit organizations including Yankee Golden Retriever Rescue of Hudson.
Hudson Rotary Club launched the Lucky Duck Race at the 1991 festival to benefit its scholarship and community enrichment programs. Buckets of numbered rubber ducks are emptied into the Assabet River from the Washington Street Bridge.
Current bridge construction won’t affect the longtime tradition. According to Kristina Johnson, assistant director of planning and community development, “The rubber duck drop from the Washington Street Bridge can go off as planned. MassDOT and their contractor are fine with this event.”
Rotarians are relieved they won’t need an alternative plan, noted Justin Provencher, the club’s publicity chair.
“We would have used the bridge on Houghton Street for a shorter race,” he explained. “Washington Street has much better visibility. Kids enjoy watching the ducks getting dropped and coming down the river.”
Ducks float to the Broad Street Bridge finish line. The five fastest ducks win ticket buyers cash prizes up to $1,500. Tickets are available for $5 each or three for $10 at the chamber office in Hudson, Hudson Family Dental, Sullivan Optometry, Tuck’s Service Center, Wright Jewelry, New England AirGun and at the festival. A Corporate Duck Race features 15-inch decoys for a $60 donation.
In 2013, the running club Highland City Striders (HCS) introduced a road race to Hudson Fest. Earlier this year, HCS began plans to reroute its most recent course on the Assabet River Rail Trail to avoid the past traffic delays when runners crossed Washington at Giasson streets. Concurrently, HCS President Jim McKenna met Hudson resident Reisa Clardy, widow of State Trooper Thomas Clardy, who was killed in the line of duty last year.
Now, HCS members are helping Reisa Clardy, race director of the first 5K run/walk to benefit the Trooper Thomas Clardy Memorial Scholarship Fund for HHS graduates. Expecting a large turnout, HCS decided to begin and end the 5K at HHS. Within several weeks, over 650 people registered to participate with the majority from Hudson, noted McKenna.
“That’s what Hudson does – rally around their own,” he said. “We’re proud to be associated with this race. Reisa developed the scholarship so that people will remember her husband was a dedicated public servant for 11 years with the Massachusetts State Police and a Marine Corps veteran.”
Clardy and her children participated in last year’s Run to Remember Boston, a road race to memorialize first responders killed in the line of duty. The experience compelled her to establish a memorial scholarship and 5K fundraiser in Hudson. She appreciates support received locally and statewide for the upcoming 5K.
“It’s heartwarming to know that people are still thinking of us; it means a lot to me and our children,” she said. “I’m looking forward to seeing everybody coming together to honor my husband and the community.”
Find event information online: Hudson Fest at www.assabetvalleychamber.org/hudsonfest.shtm; Lucky Duck Race at www.hudsonrotary.com; and Trooper Thomas Clardy Memorial Run/Walk at www.clardy5k2017.racewire.com.