Monday night was the last time a donkey will be ridden on the gymnasium floor in front of hundreds of screaming fans at Grant High School in Fox Lake.
Donkey Ball, the largest annual fundraiser for Grant's baseball program, has come to an end after more than 20 years because of a mix of controversy, construction and concern.
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"It's ending due to a combination of things," Grant High School District 124 Assistant Superintendent Christine Sefcik said. "We know people like it, but it was time for it to end."
Sefcik said insurance adjusters have been calling for an end to the basketball game due to potential liability issues. Although contestants sign waivers to shoot baskets while riding the donkeys on the basketball court, there are still potential dangers lurking, she said.
"People fall off the donkeys and hit the floor pretty hard, not to mention some of the donkeys buck the players off," she said. "There is some risk involved in there, and our insurance carrier has been requesting we end it for a couple of years now."
In addition, she said, a new hardwood floor is being installed in the gymnasium where Donkey Ball is played. Allowing the hoofed burrows to walk on the new wooden becomes a waste of money, she said.
And, Sefcik said the group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) has routinely expressed concerns with playing the game.
"Also, we have a new baseball coach at the district, and this will give him a chance to implement some other ideas for fundraising," she said. "It's a shame to see it go, but the district just can't take the liability any more."
Teacher Mike Werner, who competed on a donkey Monday, said he was upset this was the last year for the event.
"It's a huge disappointment to me that it won't be there anymore," Werner said. "It brings a lot of people together while also raises extra money for the baseball program."
The freshman assistant coach said the event raised about $1,500 in 2010, with about $1,000 going directly to Grant's baseball program.
"Well, at least we won the last game," he said of the faculty's 8-0 win Monday.