Rubber Ducks Race Down Willamette River

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EUGENE, Ore. — Tens of thousands of ducks flooded the Willamette River by Alton Baker Park on Saturday for the 25th Annual Great Rotary Duck Race.

This year more than 70,000 tickets were sold. That’s up about 10% from last year. Organizers said it wouldn’t have been possible without the generous support of the community, especially from the volunteers.

“Today’s a celebration. Today’s the day all the hard work pays off,” said Heather Edwards, Cottage Grove Family Relief Nursery Development Manager.

Months and months of fundraising efforts came to a head Saturday as hundreds of people and even some duck family members gathered at Alton Baker Park to watch the big drop for a good cause.

“I’ve been with it from the beginning. I can’t stand the thought of a child being abused and I’m just driven to do what I can,” said Burnell Ambrose, volunteer and 2012 Honorary Papa Duck.

Ambrose sold over 5,000 tickets this year. Coordinators said it’s people like him that make this possible.

“One of the reasons we have the second largest race in the United States, just behind Cincinnati, is because we have all the rotarian clubs helping to sell tickets. And we have a mobile force of almost 900 volunteers selling tickets,” said flock leader Diana Bray.

Then there are also the volunteers who meet year-round to work out the logistics and of course the several hundred who donate their time and resources to make sure every event leading up to the big race runs smoothly.

Even on race day, dozens line the river’s edge as part of the Shore Patrol, making sure each and every rubber ducky made it back.

This year’s recipients said they couldn’t be more grateful.

“One of the things that people don’t realize is that the Duck Race elevates our community profile. So not only are we getting fundraising, but we’re actually doing awareness raising,” said Edwards.

In the end, organizers said it takes about 2,000 volunteers to make this 15-minute race possible.

“It takes a lot of work. This race would not happen without volunteers,” said Edwards.

To find out how you can lend a hand in next year’s race, click here.

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