The smell of chlorine and anticipation was in the air Thursday afternoon, as 16 young participants competed in the pool area of the Best Western Rio Grande Inn for the opportunity to be crowned Snowdown royalty.
The 7- to 10-year-old competitors were up for the challenge, rising from their seats one by one to answer tough, thought-provoking questions posed in front of a crowd of parents, siblings and friends.
Jack Kroeger, from Sunnyside Elementary School, was the first to be called. He was asked what he liked most about living in Durango.
“Most of my family lives here, and all the things I can do outside,” Kroeger said with a grin.
When asked what he would do if he suddenly won a million dollars, Kroeger said, “I’d help my family buy a new ranch.”
When similarly asked what they would do with a million dollars, contestant J.W. House said he would donate to hospitals and plant more trees, Serenity Mason said she would buy a house, and Parker Singer from Park Elementary said he would make food free “for other people who can’t afford it.”
Other questions posed to the contestants had to do with their personal likes and interests. Math seemed to be the most popular subject in school for Anneliese Wells, Eden McCardy and Serenity Mason; Florida and Texas were the most popular destinations for those participants asked where in the world they would like to visit (or at least where outside of Durango), and playing with friends was the thing they all liked most about going to school.
“I like to see my friends,” said Diamonique Zamario, wearing a fanciful red and black Renaissance-era dress. “It’s fun.”
Garnering the biggest applause and chuckles when asked what he would do if he were in charge of the world for a week, Roland Waltz from Needham Elementary School said he would “get rid of taxes.”
While the judges deliberated for several minutes, the young participants played with the balloons tied to their chairs and laughed loudly with their fellow competitors.
Finally, the king and queen were chosen: Parker Singer and Lilly Anderson from Riverview Elementary School. The two jumped from their seats and ran over excitedly to claim their crowns and robes.
Clearly shocked by his new royal status, Singer said, “I think I won because I said I wanted to feed everyone.”
For her part, Anderson said, “I’m just really excited I won!”
Kathy Bowser, a longtime organizer of the event, promised to take all of the participants to McDonald’s for dinner after the event, to the cheers and applause of the 16 children.
“We’ve been doing this for 44 years,” she said. “We started this at the same time we started doing Snowdown. The kids are so great, and McDonald’s is always so supportive of the event. It’s just really a fun time.”