EUGENE, Ore. — Saturday afternoon, tens of thousands of rubber ducks will race down the Willamette River as part of the annual Great Rotary Duck Race, and lots of preparation will be done hours before the ducks are released.
“We’ll be here at 7 o’clock setting up the tents. The Airport Rotary Club donates their tents every year, so we’ll be setting up tents. Willamalane will be bringing in the tables. We’ll be getting set up. The sponsors and exhibitors will be here around 8 o’clock getting set up for everything,” said Nichole Lewellyn, Race Day Coordinator.
Before the ducks race down the river, there’ll be plenty of duck race festivities at the park.
“Zaney Zoo will be here. They’ll have all of their fun and exotic pets to touch and play with for children of all ages, and all the agencies will be providing fun children’s activities like fishing and coloring and a face painter,” Lewellyn said.
All these activities won’t cost families a penny.
“Everything’s free. It’s just a fun family day, so come out and enjoy it. There’s no charge for anything. The pancake breakfast is free. I think they’re asking for donations, but it’s just an open family day,” said Diana Bray, Rotary Duck Race Chairwoman.
This year, 68,102 ducks will float down the river as part of the race.
“It’s just a little bit below last year, but it’s our fourth highest that we’ve ever done in 26 years,” Bray said.
The Rotary is expecting hundreds of people will line up along the Willamette to watch the rubber ducks swimming down stream and maybe even cheer on their own duck.
“We hope they do. You know the tickets are purchased from all over. People locally are selling from people all over. They don’t all live here. We hope they’ll come out. It’s always fun to have a winner in the crowd,” Bray said.
Around 1 p.m. some lucky duckies will be able to collect their winnings.
The ducks’ journey down the river will end right at the DeFazio Bike and Pedestrian Bridge.