24th Annual Great Rubber Duck Races take place Saturday in Breckenridge | SummitDaily.com

24th Annual Great Rubber Duck Races take place Saturday in Breckenridge

Erica Marciniec
Special to the Daily
Summit Daily/Mark Fox

Anticipation is running high for the Great Rubber Duck Races this Saturday in Breckenridge, where organizers hope to see 10,000 small yellow rubber competitors, although the number is looking more like 7,000 or 8,000 at present. The 24th annual Summit Foundation fundraiser involves letting thousands of “adopted” rubber ducks loose on the Blue River to see which one can float downstream the fastest.

Saturday’s events kick off at 1 p.m. with the Kids Duck Dash, in which skier ducks, pink ducks and ducks in inner tubes are dropped into the Blue River from the Adams Street Bridge, finishing at the Riverwalk Center. The donation to adopt a kids’ duck is $10. Not only do children get to keep their ducks at the end of the race, but also the owners of the first 25 ducks to make it to the wooden barrier in the river and then file through the narrow flume at the race’s end win prizes provided by Peak-A-Boo Toys. Kids’ ducks are available on the day of the race until they sell out.

Next up is the Business Battle Duck Race, an event which began more than a week ago when businesses purchased, decorated and displayed their $100 giant 9″ x 7″ ducks at FirstBank of Summit County. Community members and a “panel of duck experts” will vote to determine the best in flock. Interestingly, these giant ducks do not compete in Saturday’s event. Instead, they sit in the Riverwalk Center looking pretty while small, lithe “race ducks” are sent into battle in their stead. Winners in this category include prizes for the business battle duck minions who cross the finish line first as well as for best bedecked giant duck. Like the kids, the businesses also get to keep their creations.

The Great Rubber Duck Race kicks off at 3 p.m. with adopted rubber ducks floating the Blue River from Main Street Station to the Riverwalk Center. It costs $5 to adopt a regular yellow duck, with adoptions taking place online at http://www.summitfoundation.org until 10 p.m. Friday, at the City Markets in Dillon and Breckenridge, the Dillon Farmers’ Market Friday and at all FirstBanks until 3 p.m. Friday. Ducks can also be adopted on the day of the race until 2:45 p.m.

The number of soon-to-be prize winners in the main event is up to 50 this year, with prizes including a week-long stay in a two-bedroom condo somewhere cool as well as ski passes from Arapahoe Basin and Copper Mountain, lift tickets from Vail Resorts, two Unity snowboards, punch passes to Silverthorne and Breckenridge Recreation Centers and more. There is even a pizza-and-pitcher consolation prize from Downstairs at Eric’s for the parent of the adopted duck that comes in last. Participants do not have to be present to win. The results will be posted at the Riverwalk Center, The Summit Foundation office at 111A Lincoln Avenue and online “eventually,” organizers said.

Proceeds from rubber duck adoptions support scholarships and grants to critical community nonprofits in Summit County and beyond. In a 12-month period ending June 30, the Summit Foundation awarded a total of $1,433,508 to support local causes.

Adopting a rubber duck is much easier than adopting a live duck, Lori Goodman explains at http://www.liveducks.com. Live ducks can transmit salmonella, for example, and they are “extremely messy eaters and poop a lot,” whereas rubber ducks share none of these challenges. Furthermore, domestic ducks released into the wild rarely survive, whereas rubber ducks sometimes do, as evidenced by the rubber duck that local Gregg Davis purports to have found 15 years ago in Green Mountain Reservoir. “That means it went through the Dillon dam,” Davis said, presuming it was a duck race escapee.

The story is not unlikely, said Summit Foundation executive director Lee Zimmerman, who indicated that rubber duck escapees are likely to survive “as long as their rubber skin can hold out or until a dog gets them.” (No pets are allowed at the event, by the way, lest they disturb the competitors.) As to the threat of rubber ducks competing with native ducks for habitat and resources, Zimmerman said that there is “no competition; our ducks are friendly, non-aggressive ducks.”

Whether or not this lack of aggressive streak makes for a good race contestant remains to be seen, but who would argue that it’s not worth a $5 chance to win while contributing to many good causes at the same time? This year’s race is presented by Grand Lodge on Peak 7.

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