“Can we have a girl mayor, please?” asked Payton Seeberger, 11, as “Mayor” Max Winebrenner settled into the chair behind the Lexington mayor's desk Tuesday.
The two previous “mayors” had both been boys.
The mayors, flanked by their “commissioners,” took part in a news conference in front of a GTV3 camera Tuesday as one of the tasks in an “Amazing Race” event organized by Lexington's Division of Parks and Recreation.
For the last five years, 45 campers in the REAL (Recreation Enrichment And Learning) Middle School Summer Camp have participated in a local version of the Amazing Race TV show.
The race has usually been held throughout the city with campers moved from site to site in vans driven by adults. This year's “green” version was held downtown, with racers moving on foot.
The campers ran from one end of downtown to the other with stops at places such as Rupp Arena, the Lexington Public Library, the University of Kentucky, Urban Active, Calvary Baptist Church and the Explorium. At each stop, they were given tasks to complete before getting a clue about their next location.
Kristi Gregory, a big fan of the TV show, thought a Lexington version would be a fun activity for the students in summer camp.
“We decided that was probably the best way to get them out and active and get other people, other businesses, involved,” said Gregory, who coordinated the race.
The campers said they had been looking forward to the race all summer and can't wait to do it again next year.
“It's been very exciting, very cool,” said Sara Caldwell, 14. “You know the area, but you don't know where certain things are.”
Tuesday's race started at the Lexington Herald-Leader, where the three teams had to sell 50 newspapers on the street.
The groups took off in different directions, selling papers on the streets or going into businesses to see if people would buy a paper. Proceeds went to the Ronald McDonald House.
The first team reached the second stop, the Urban County Government Center, about 20 minutes ahead of the second group. The third team trailed by about 30 minutes.
At the government center, the racers completed three tasks, one of which was the news conferences that were taped for possible broadcast on GTV3, the city's cable channel.
Winebrenner, 12, and his fellow mayors from the first-place team fielded questions about recycling, taxes, crime, what makes Lexington the best place to live and why people should vote for them.
When asked about the high gas prices, Landon Love, 12, said, “I'm sorry about that. That's not my call. Ask the president.” Love was on the same team as Winebrenner and Seeberger.
That team, which grabbed a lead it never relinquished, finished the race about 25 minutes before the second-place team. The third team finished about 10 minutes after the second group.
“The second team made a fatal error by getting lost,” Gregory said. The team got lost twice, once on the way to the Lexington Convention and Visitors Bureau and again when they couldn't find the entrance to Urban Active.
The reward for finishing the race is a pizza party for everyone. The winning team gets the added prize of ice cream sundaes.
Morgan Tincher, 12, said one of her favorite stops was the Explorium, where they got to draw labels for Campbell's soup cans, assemble a dinosaur and organize food into the categories of fruit, vegetables, grain and meats.
“We were being kids,” she said.
Each year, the tasks the campers have to complete get harder and the race has not duplicated any stops, Gregory said.
Out of all the places the race has taken the campers to, one of Gregory's favorite stops was last year's visit to the Joe Craft Center, the basketball practice facility of the Wildcats. The students had to shoot free throws to get the next clue, which was hidden in Joe Crawford's locker.
“It was when the basketball practice facility had just opened; it was brand new,” Gregory said. “You couldn't drag them out of there.”