Nearly 1,000 rubber ducks took the plunge at the Katlodeh Bridge to race down current toward Bob McMeekin Chamber Park, Aug. 28.
The Hay River Community Garden has been preparing a duck race fundraiser with 50/50 ticket raffle sales for most of the summer to raise money for its fruit and vegetable growing operation.
A few totes of the small duckies were dumped at 11 a.m. sharp Saturday before making their way in the current toward the town park.
“I think it went as ideally as it could have,” said Daryl Buhler chuckling, who was a key volunteer helping monitor the duckies from his boat. “What could have happened is we could have had 200 ducks cross the finish line at the end, but instead we had 1, 2, and then 3 cross. Then about 10 seconds later about 500 ducks came at us.”
Buhler estimated that the first duck crossed the finish line at about 11:43 a.m., meaning most of the ducks completed the route in and around the 45-minute mark.
At $20 at ticket, the community garden sold 910 tickets in a 50/50 raffle during its sales campaign, meaning that the organization raised $9,110 and handed out another $9,110 for the grand prize winner.
Paul Grant was the lucky first place to take the whole pot.
Second prize, which was $2,000 went to Shawn Carter and third place, a donated lawn mower, went to Richard Johnstone.
Buhler said the river’s conditions made the race a success and allowed for people to pick the ducks up easier.
“Fort-five minutes is pretty quick and the river is usually shallow and slow at the end of August and coming into September,” he sad.
“The benefit this year that able to be out on boats without worrying about hitting rocks.”
A big task at the end of the race was of course retrieving as many of the ducks as possible.
“Picking them up was a lot easier than I thought and we definitely did our best to get the majority of them back, although there were some losses,” Buhler said, adding that the blue ones were probably the hardest ones to spot and retrieve in the water.
He said he was grateful for the assistance from many children and families who staked along the shorelines to pick up the ducks as well as kayakers and other boaters who spent a few hours getting them.
“We thought the event went really well and there was a good turnout of people to come and watch the finish,” said garden president Megan Russell. “We also had families participating in lawn games and some kids involved in games under the tent to learn about vegetables and to guess the vegetable. It was all good gardening promotion that way overall and we raised a lot.”