Dominican family vacation — ducky's treat

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They thought about Italy or Greece — "places I've always dreamed of going," says Melissa Krynicki — but then discovered the Dominican Republic.

For their Allens Pond Duck Derby dinner for two (in this case three) anywhere on the planet, the Krynicki family of Dartmouth has chosen Punta Cana, Dominican Republic. Jim. Melissa and son Alex will go next spring and make a week of it.

Last summer, shortly after learning that their duck "Sunny" was the Duck Derby winner, Mr. Krynicki guessed that they might go "to the Mediterranean somewhere," a place they'd never been.

"We looked at a lot of places but thought our son (age 7) might be a too young to enjoy it fully," Ms. Krynicki said last week.

“It was a lot of back and forth”, she said.  “But then we decided to make it a family vacation and the decision was easier," — someplace with beaches, swimming and snorkeling. And it's not so many time zones removed.

In the end they relied on the tropical paradise advice of their travel agent. "The pictures look beautiful, very lush," Ms. Krynicki said.

This can't-go-wrong choice was made possibly by Mr. Krynicki's boss, Neal Van Sloun, owner of Sylvan Nursery where Mr. Krynicki has worked 16 years, now as head of maintenance. Months before, Mr. Van Sloun had purchased a duck apiece for Sylvan employees as a holiday gift.

On derby day, Mr. Krynicki was spending vacation time out clearing a trail in woods near his house when the messages on his telephone answering machine began piling up.

He returned to find one from Gina Purtell, director of Allens Pond Wildlife Sanctuary, another from Mr. Van Sloun.

"I  saw the phone light flashing and kind of had an inkling what it might be all about," Mr. Krynicki said then.

"I called and found out that my duck had won the grand prize" — dinner for two anywhere in the world including travel and lodging. He next called his wife Melissa who was at a birthday party with their their son.

"Her reaction was the same as mine. Wow!"

When they go, the family plans to take Sunny (named by Alex)  along for photos.

The odds against Sunny were greater than ever in this, Allen Pond's tenth annual Duck Derby.

Jennifer Costa of the wildlife sanctuary said that this year's anniversary was a record breaker with 5,866 yellow rubber ducks competing in  the sanctuary's biggest annual fundraiser. The event earned over $50,000 for the Allens Pond Wildlife Sanctuary.

Ms. Costa said that last summer's experience shows that ducks can make great holiday gifts.

Ducks for the 2014 Duck Derby on Saturday, Aug. 16, are now available to adopt online.

For more information, call the Allens Pond field station at (508) 636-2437, email duckderby@massaudubon.org or visit the Allens Pond website at http://www.massaudubon.org/get-outdoors/wildlife-sanctuaries/allens-pond.

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Jim McGaw

A lifelong Portsmouth resident, Jim graduated from Portsmouth High School in 1982 and earned a journalism degree from the University of Rhode Island in 1986. He's worked two different stints at East Bay Newspapers, for a total of 18 years with the company so far. When not running all over town bringing you the news from Portsmouth, Jim listens to lots and lots and lots of music, watches obscure silent films from the '20s and usually has three books going at once. He also loves to cook crazy New Orleans dishes for his wife of 25 years, Michelle, and their two sons, Jake and Max.