For two years, they’ve been in hiding. But on Sunday, they floated and quacked down the river once again.
Cheers were loud and joyful as a crate filled with nearly 17,000 plastic ducks emptied into the river- the start of The Great Drake Park Duck Race.
The race went virtual for two years during the pandemic, but this year, the Bend Rotary Club started preparing back in April for the in-person event.
“We haven’t been out here for three summers basically, and it feels wonderful that the people that are turning out today, everyone’s happy to be buying duck tickets,” said Steve Ferber, the event chairman.
Community members were able to purchase a duck for $5 each, in hopes theirs would be the lucky duck to make it to the finish line first.
Crowds meandered through the park as they watched the mass of colorful ducks float through the water. In the end, a pink duck reigned victorious, earning the winner a $5,000 prize.
At the last count, there were $94,000 in ticket sales at this year’s event, which is all to benefit local nonprofits.
“Not a record, but having been somewhat dormant for a few years, we’re really happy that that’s where we are right now,” Ferber said.
“All four nonprofits are here,” Co-Chair Kate Bailey added. “Central Oregon Veterans Organization, Boys and Girls Club of Bend, MountainStar Family Relief Nursery and Deschutes Children’s Foundation.”
There was a kids’ race earlier in the day, which resulted in a new bicycle for the winner. There were also bouncy houses and food carts set up in the park for families to enjoy throughout the day.
It was the event’s 33rd year, which kicked off in 1990.
Their fundraising record is $117,000, which the Rotary Club hopes to beat next year.