WALLACE — Have you ever wanted to follow a large beach ball as it floats down a river as part of a contest to see how long it will take to get from point A to point B? How about enjoying carnival games and rides after the giant ball makes it to its home?
If you answered yes to these questions, or said nothing because you were confused but very curious, then the 78th annual Gyro Days and Lead Creek Derby will be a great way to spend your time over the next few days.
The festivities begin today when members of the Wallace Gyros Club embrace technology and go live on their Facebook page to replace their traditional radio day.
In the past, organizers would meet up at the local radio station, KWAL in Osburn, to plug the event. With KWAL shutting down in 2018 though, the Gyros will now be taking to the internet from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. at the Stardust Motel.
People are invited to show up at the motel to join the Gyros as they broadcast with various Gyro stories and partake in a big barbecue.
Thursday will be the first day that carnival rides and games will be open to the public on the streets of downtown Wallace. These festivities will be offered until Sunday.
“We’ve got the same great carnival again this year that we had last year,” said Gyro President Chris Pfahl. “They’ll have rides and games and we encourage everyone to come to Wallace on Thursday or Friday night, or all day and night on Saturday to enjoy the carnival.”
Due in large part to Silver Valley businesses and organizations, the Gyro Club has once again been able to provide free passes to elementary school-age children of Mullan and Wallace.
In addition to the carnival Friday night, Gyro Days attendees will also be able to hear from the Wallace Elks Lodge Drum & Bugle Corps when they make their traditional rounds through town while performing a variety of different tunes.
Saturday at noon is when the main event happens when the Gyro Ball is dropped into the Coeur d’Alene River from the Last Chance bridge in Mullan by a deserving local citizen.
Just as it has gone in the past, a parade of bicyclists and cars will follow the ball all the way down the river to its eventual destination at the Sixth Street Bridge in Wallace. Gyro members are on stand-by every step of the way to ensure that the ball doesn’t get hung-up on anything.
The Gyros are currently selling tickets that will each be assigned a computer-generated time that it will take for the ball to reach Wallace. The buyer of the ticket with the assigned time that is closest to the actual time wins the first-place prize of 50 silver dollars. There are 14 other cash prizes paid, so people are encouraged to purchase tickets at local merchants or restaurants in Wallace.
The sale of these tickets is how the Gyros fund the scholarships and the various other youth activities every year, as well as provide financial support for the carnival.
Last year’s finish time was 3 hours, 11 minutes and 41 seconds — the fastest time since 2012 when the ball finished just three minutes over the three-hour mark.