WALLACE – Like phases of the moon, there are some things that you can take for granted. A local example of this certainty being that the Gyro ball will make its watery trek from Mullan to Wallace during the Lead Creek Derby.
Even if a group of Gyro members have to poke and prod it all the way down the river with a stick– that ball will cross the finish line.
So was the case yet again this year when Wallace and (partially) Mullan celebrated the 78th Annual Wallace Gyro Days and Lead Creek Derby last week.
The derby began at its traditional location from the Last Chance Bridge in Mullan, where participants gathered to see the Gyro ball dropped into the chilly waters of the South Fork of the Coeur d’Alene River. This year, the honor of dropping the ball in at noon went to longtime Wallace supporters James Lynn and his family.
“Lynn is a big booster here in Wallace and an active/respected member of the Gyro club,” Wallace Gyro Mike Dexter said. “He and his family continue to be strong supporters of everything Wallace.”
With a loud thud similar to the sound of someone doing a belly flop in a pool, the derby was on! Spectators took to their bikes and vehicles to begin the more than three-hour journey west down the Trail of the Coeur d’Alenes.
Unlike last year where mother nature was less than accommodating, Gyro ball followers this year enjoyed sunny sky’s and friendly temperatures.
“The turnout this year was great!” Dexter said. “I would guess it was a little better than last year probably due to better weather. It was a beautiful day.”
Like every year, the Gyro ball did get hung up on surrounding branches and foliage from time to time, but leading the parade of bicyclists and followers from a Humvee driven flat-bed trailer was a collection of Wallace Gyro Club members. These members (or “runners”) were tasked with knocking the ball loose whenever the need arose.
Exactly 3 hours, 29 minutes and 5 seconds after it was plopped into the river, the Gyro ball passed below its traditional finish line at the Sixth Street Bridge in Wallace to a chorus of cheers. As with every year, the finishing of the derby also signaled the convergence of those that had been following the ball with the many that have been waiting in Wallace.
This year’s time was slightly longer than last year’s of 3 hours, 11 minutes and 41 seconds, but not anywhere near the longest recording time in 2015 of 5 hours, 36 minutes and 54 seconds.
The Lead Creek Derby is just one part of the larger event that is Gyro Days.
From Thursday afternoon to Sunday morning, carnival rides and games were set up along Sixth and Cedar streets in Wallace for attendees young and old to partake in. The Wallace Elks Drum and Bugle Choir were also on hand to bring the excitement up Friday night.
“Overall the results of the weekend will allow for the Wallace Gyro Club to continue to support the types of youth activities and other events that have benefited for 78 years from the Lead Creek Derby,” Dexter said.
With this year’s Lead Creek Derby finishing time set in stone, the Gyros have released the names of the derby’s winners.
Winners are chosen by the final time corresponding with whoever holds the ticket with the closest time. The tickets, purchased through the Gyros, each have a precise finishing time associated with them that is chosen randomly by a computer program. The sale of tickets funds Gyro scholarships and various other youth activities every year, as well as provides financial support for the carnival.
This year’s winners are as follows:
1. Merle Van Houte - 50 Real Silver Rounds
2. GA Cook’s - Wallace - $100
3. Smokey Woodward - Palo Alto - $100
4. CJ Croll – Post Falls - $100
5. Todd Turbak – $100
6. Justin Tuorila – Minnesota - $100
7. HMH Engineering – CdA - $50
8. Steve James – CdA - $50
9. Rick Luna – Kellogg - $50
10. AZ Cook’s – Wallace - $50
11. John Mag - Wallace - $50
12. Beaver Williams - Kellogg - $25
13. HMH Engineering – CdA - $25
14. Marriann & Jon - Wallace - $25