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Get Your Ducks in a Row: Races to Have on Your Radar

by Debra Bokur

Jul 31, 2020

Photo: Linnaea Mallette – Dreamstime.com

Travel Tips

The mad bobbing of sunny yellow toy ducks vying for the finish line has become a popular community event and fun family activity around the world — with many events staged to benefit local or national charities. Event-goers “adopt” a brightly colored, numbered rubber duck, pop it into a water source (usually a river or a stream) and wait to see which duck crosses the finish line first. Winners typically are awarded a prize donated by a race sponsor, while proceeds from the duck adoptions go to benefit a specific cause.


The first such race was staged in South Australia decades ago, and have since found their way into communities around the world. Ready to quack out? Here’s where you can enter your own rubber racer:


Luxembourg City’s annual Duck Race will see contenders floating along the Pétrusse River from an official launch below the Viaduct. The race takes place in spring, and various elimination races lead to the ultimate winners, bestowed with gifts donated by race sponsors.


Rocky Mountain ducks will race at a variety of locations, including Estes Park and Boulder. The Estes Park Rotary Duck Race Festival boasts a line-up of events, including the Duck Waddle 5K and plenty of live music. The race day in September begins when ducks are dropped into the frigid waters of Fall River at Nicky’s Steakhouse, and ends at the George Hix Memorial Riverside Plaza Festival. Live commentary accompanies the event. In the fall, ducks race through the center of Boulder along Boulder Creek during The Great Boulder Duck Race.


In an area of England described as home to some of the country’s boggiest, muddiest terrain, the annual Splat Quack Go event takes place in July. The venue is Poplar Park in Hollesley in Suffolk’s green, rolling countryside. In the cityscape of Manchester, The Brainwave Manchester Duck Race benefits children and includes a race down the River Irwell and a full day of duck-themed, family-friendly events.


In Wetumpka, Alabama, the River Region Duck Dash offers a $1,500 cash prize to the winner. Gold Star Park is the setting, and an estimated 5,000 competitors are anticipated. The event also includes activities and entertainment throughout the afternoon after the ducks take off from Bibb Graves Bridge.


Elsewhere, look for Iowa’s Ottumwa Duck Races in Ottumwa, also held in September; the Incredible Duck Race in May in Tampa, Florida; and The Capital City Pluck-a-Duck in Washington, D.C., in September.


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