by Terry Duffy
The first-ever Great Contraption Race, held to benefit the It Happened to Alexa Foundation of Lewiston, went off without a hitch last Saturday morning in the lower Niagara River waters between Lewiston and Youngstown. Months in planning, this multi-happening event saw the involvement of the Lewiston, Youngstown and the greater Buffalo business communities, as well as the participation of scores of area residents.
Activities were plenty, and included area bar/restaurants offering benefit GCR drink concoction specials in the weeks leading to the event; an elaborate pre-race champagne social at the Barton Hill Hotel; a VIP cruise attended by 135 aboard the all-new Whirlpool Jet Boat Tours' paddleboat, the Niagara Belle; and the inaugural race itself witnessed by hundreds.
Dozens participated, both in teams on shore and aboard the 23 truly creative contraptions in the river - all under the watchful eye of a well-structured GCR boat safety committee, the Lewiston No. 1 Volunteer Fire Co. fireboat and U.S. Coast Guard personnel. And other than many a tired and waterlogged participant, no problems were reported whatsoever in the river.
All said, it was a fun-filled event, from the opening guns by Old Fort Niagara soldiers on the Lewiston docks to downriver at the Youngstown south docks and the all-day party in Veterans Park that followed.
"First and foremost, I can't thank you all enough for your time and exemplary effort in making the inaugural Great Contraption Race a huge success!," said Ellen Augello, executive director of the It Happened to Alexa Foundation. Augello reported a preliminary total of $15,000 raised thus far from the event and said contributions are still coming in. "We gained many new supporters and created a wonderful platform to build on!"
"Thank you to everyone that made the inaugural Great Contraption Race a huge success," continued the Alexa Foundation in a statement. "Great competitors, great committee and volunteers! Next year will be even bigger and better! Thank you from the staff, board of directors and founders of the Alexa Foundation!"
For more information on the It Happened to Alexa Foundation and to contribute, visitwww.ithappenedtoalexa.org or call 1-877-77-ALEXA. (photos by Kevin and Dawn Cobello, K&D Action Photo and Aerial Imaging)
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