The Hebron Fourth of July Turtle Derby took place in the parking lot of 1st Source Bank this past Thursday. The weather was scorching hot on the pavement but the turtles were not affected. Over 100 turtles, large and small, participated in the race, with the winners receiving a trophy and cold hard cash.

The Hebron Turtle Derby has taken place as part of the annual Independence Day celebration for more than 60 years. The event is orchestrated by a 10 member team of volunteers that gather donations, stuff more than 120 treat bags, set up the event, register between 100 to 120 turtles and clean up afterward. Many families and their adult children that have raced turtles in the past pitch in a helping hand to make the event go on without a hitch.

This year, First Church of DeMotte came in with a generous offer to fill treat bags, as well as feed a hungry crowd with 285 free hotdogs, chips and cold water. As an added bonus, First Church also hosted two beloved characters, Woody and Jessie from the Toy Story movies, at their tent for children of all ages to snap a happy photo together.

“I have been racing turtles in the race since I was a little girl, and my kids, nieces, nephews, great nieces and nephews have all grown up with the same family tradition. It is the one small town tradition that everyone has enjoyed at least once during the Fourth of July,” said event coordinator Jayme Feiser.

This year, the first place trophy was awarded to Brystal Wireman, 7, of Hebron. Second place was awarded to Remington Carden, 4, of Hebron, followed by a close third place to Jack Gibbon, 3, of Wheatfield. Surprisingly, all three winners are cousins, with Carden being the first place winner the previous two years. What a fast turtle he has!

Traditional events like these cannot go on without the support of many families and local businesses. The Fieser’s, their team of volunteers, family, friends and spectators alike would like to give a heartfelt “thank you” to the following businesses for their donation to this year’s event: Coffman Family and Farm, First Church, Dave Peeler, DeMotte State Bank, Anytime Fitness, Mary Jo Kats, Dairy Queen, 1st Source Bank, Northwest Furniture Service, Kenneth J. Allen Law Group, and the Porter County Public Library Systems.

Be sure to shop local, and next year, bring a turtle and join the fun.