Annual Vail Rotary Club Rubber Duck Race sends quackers down Gore Creek on Sunday
If you go ...
What: Vail Rotary Club Rubber Duck Race.
When: Sunday, Sept. 3. Activities begin at 10 a.m., with the kids’ duck race at 2 p.m. and the main duck race at 3 p.m.
Where: International Bridge, Vail Village.
Cost: Ducks are $10 each, or three for $20, five for $30, nine for $50 or a platinum fleet of 20 ducks for $100.
More information: Purchase ducks and learn more at www.vailduckrace.com.
Ready! Set! Quack! The Vail Rotary Club Rubber Duck Race is coming on Sunday, and the final preparations are being made by club members, nonprofit partners, sponsors and volunteers for what’s sure to be an awe-inspiring spectacle — more than 15,000 blazing yellow rubber ducks floating down Gore Creek.
Larry Agneberg, a Vail Rotarian, is this year’s race organizer and is known as head duck, owing to his close attention to duck detail. Agneberg acknowledges that while 3 p.m. is the official race start time on Sunday, it’s been a race all summer long to raise as many funds as possible for the scholarships, grants and programs that Rotary sponsors in our valley.
“It’s looking good so far. We really had a big push from our partnering nonprofits.” Agneberg said. “Already, we are showing an increase in duck sales over last year. Mind you, our partners get to keep 60 percent of what they raise, but we are seeing positive numbers.”
Agneberg also pointed to improvements on the http://www.vailduckrace.com website as helping to make this year’s effort more streamlined and visible.
“We were able to get our sponsors lined up early, and I think adding in the million-dollar ducks has really made things really exciting,” said Diana Meehan, former Rotary president.
Meehan is heading up the kids’ duck race this year, which starts at 2 p.m., preceding the big race.
“We have made a few changes to the kids’ race,” she said. “Bigger prizes and a better way of racing. This year, children will be able to buy the special character ducks but will actually race yellow ducks similar to regular race ducks, but with special red bands around them. First prize is a $200 Amazon gift card. Remember to register early.”
LEAVE THE DUCKS IN THE WATER
With the advent of the million-dollar ducks this year, there will be more of a focus on keeping ducks in Gore Creek.
“In the past,” Agneberg said, “we’ve had folks take a duck or two or maybe six out of the creek during the race to bring home as souvenirs. Don’t get me wrong, I know more than anyone that we all get excited in the heat of the moment out there. But when you stop and think about it, you are taking away someone else’s chance to win. We want everyone to have a chance — besides, the character ducks are only 10 bucks and they make great souvenirs, too.”
When it comes to zany behavior at the race, Agneberg and Meehan have seen it all.
“We had one volunteer reach down in a 5-foot pool and pull up a submerged duck diver from the bottom — scary. We’ve seen ducks get thrown by exuberant spectators, so we’re looking to make sure everyone has a fun, safe time of it,” Agneberg said.
“The local Boy Scout troop, along with the girls’ volleyball team, will be stationed creekside to help keep ducks moving along and maintain safety,” Meehan added.
‘ALL ABOUT SERVICE’
A chance to win $1 million, a $5,000 grand prize, three kids’ duck race prizes, more than 15,000 ducks in the water surrounded by thousands of cheering people … it all comes bubbling to a crescendo this Sunday at 3 p.m. at the Vail International Bridge, but Agneberg, his head slightly above the churning turbulence, has his eyes on the real prize.
“Its all about service. By joining together to help others, you discover yourself and make connections to your community in the process. That’s what Rotary is about. Its fun, too. It’s a duck race!” said Agneberg, remaining true to form … a head duck right to the finish line.
Graham Danzoll is a freelance writer who is a former member of the Vail Rotary Club and is currently on the board of the United Way of the Eagle River Valley.
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