Hundreds try their luck in duck race |

Hundreds try their luck in duck race

Tamara Miller
Shane Macomber/Vail DailyNWS Duck Race2 SM 8-14 Kids are perched on a rock watching as it is every duck for themselves during the Vail Rubber Duck Race.

Around 9,000 rubber ducks racing (really, meandering) down Gore Creek and only a few of them are yours.None of Dan Donato’s seven ducks made over the finish line quickly enough for one of the 47 prizes available at the 11th annual Vail Rubber Duck Race. But the Denver resident, who has been vacationing with his family in the Vail Valley since Wednesday, didn’t really care.”It’s wonderful up here,” Donato said. “I suppose it’s in the 90s along the Front Range.”

Despite the chances, the annual fund raising event never ceases to attract a crowd, if only to witness the arguably ridiculous sight of a yellow rubber duck armada floating through Vail Village. The chance to win top prizes such as his and her Vespa scooters or a trip to Lake Tahoe also seems to convince the otherwise dubious to join in.Anyone wishing to participate could purchase a duck for $5, but many opted for the package deals, such as six ducks for $25, said Bob Moroney, Vail-Eagle Valley Rotary member. This year marked the first kids-only duck race, which started at 2 p.m. The top 10 finishers were given toys for prizes, but all who participated got to keep their duck. The rotary hosts the event to raise money for a variety of community activities, such as the organization’s scholarship fund. Other nonprofit organizations also sold ducks leading up the race and could keep a portion of the proceeds for their own charities.In actuality, there are rubber duck races taking place all over. Aspen will host a similar event soon and Boulder has a rubber duck race fund raiser on Memorial Day, Moroney said.

The ducks used in Saturday’s race also are used in a similar race in Summit County.”They train all year for the two races,” said rotarian Larry Agneberg.In all actuality, training has nothing to do with who wins the rubber duck race. It’s all a matter of luck. In fact the amount of time it takes for the ducks to wander from their starting point under the Covered Bridge on Bridge Street to the International Bridge is only controlled by wind, water flow and serendipity.Crowds lined the banks of Gore Creek shortly before 3 p.m., when the main race was scheduled to start. After counting to 10, the ducks were released. A group of women standing near the International Bridge waited patiently for the expected ducks to come into view.

“It’s like waiting for paint to dry,” one said. Minutes later, a yellow dot turned the corner.”There’s the first one,” another yelled. And slowly, but sure, other ducks came into view.

The crowd cheered. Children standing in the river helped unlodge ducks that had become stuck behind a rock.It was a race to the finish, but in the end, only one duck could take the top prize. “It’s a sea of yellow!” one spectator exclaimed.Staff writer Tamara Miller can be reached at (970) 949-0555, ext. 607, or, based in Vail, Colorado.

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