Saturday, May 21, 2016

"Off to the duck race, rubber duck derby comes to Racine"

From The Journal

CARA SPOTO cara.spoto@journaltimes.com0

"RACINE — It’s been more than a few years since a local nonprofit has harnessed the power of the rubber duckies to raise funds for their cause, but in fewer than three weeks the Root River will once again be home to a rubber ducky derby.

"Substance abuse prevention organization Focus on Community and the City of Racine Parks, Recreation and Cultural Services Department are teaming up to host the event, which is slated to kick off at 11 a.m. on Saturday, June 4, at Island Park, 1700 Liberty St., in Racine.

"The goal is to bring families and the community together, say organizers, but also to help the two entities raise funds for youth programming.

"Sheila Simonsen, a program manager at Focus on Community, brought the idea to Racine Parks, Recreation and Cultural Services Director Tom Molbeck earlier this year after learning about rubber ducky derbies at a conference.

"'“I was just kind of intrigued by the idea and rubber ducks make me smile. And I thought if rubber ducks make me smile they got to make other people smile,' Simonsen said.

"When she asked Molbeck what kind of steps she would need to take to get permission to host the derby, Molbeck asked if Focus on Community would be interested in doing a joint fundraiser.

"'And as soon as I told him what we wanted to do, he kind of got this big goofy smile on his face, too, and he said: "Would you guys consider partnering with us?" And I said, "definitely,"' Simonsen said.

"Even though they aren’t sure if they’ll make a profit this first year, the overall goal for the event is for it to become a lucrative fundraiser going forward, Simonsen said.

"And at least some of the overhead for the first event will be covered. The nonprofit and the city received a $2,500 grant from Educators Credit Union to purchase 5,000 rubber ducks for the derby itself.


Not just a derby

"But how does a rubber duck derby work? Essentially it’s like betting on a horse race. All the ducks are numbered, and participants pay to sponsor a duck in the hopes their duck, or number, comes in first, second or third place.

"Those looking to participate in the derby can sponsor one duck for $5; six ducks for $25, or 20 ducks for $100. The first-place winner of the derby will win $500; the second-place winner, $250; and third-place winner, $100. As of Friday the nonprofit had sold 600 ducks.

"Ducks can be purchased online at, by phone at 262-632-6200, or in person at Focus on Community’s offices, 1220 Mound Ave., Suite 307, in Racine. Office hours are 8:30 to 4:30 p.m. Monday-Friday.

"In addition to the derby, there will be assorted children's activities and games, and a DJ. Top Dog will be on hand selling refreshments, Simonsen said, and families are encouraged to bring picnics.

"The nonprofit will also be holding a duck-o-rating contest in which participants can purchase a large duck for $25 and decorate, or 'duck-o-rate,' it. The finished ducks will be displaced at Racine Art Museum on Friday evening, June 3, for First Friday, so people can vote for their favorites. The best decorated ducks — as judged by First Friday attendees and celebrity judges — will net prizes. About 22 of the duck-o-rate ducks had seen sold as of Friday. 

"'I think we are definitely doing it again no matter what,' she said of the overall event. 'This year is really just figuring out what works.'

"To learn more about the derby or how to take part in the Duck-O-Rating contest — where participants decorate a large rubber ducky — visit"

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Of course,

Those duckies better be biodegradable, or someone might have a snit fit.

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