EUGENE, Ore. — The first Great Rotary Duck Race was held back in 1988 and it’s grown exponentially since. As the name implies, it’s organized by local Rotarians. About 600 of them have a hand in the event in some way, either by selling tickets or getting intricately involved in race planning.
One of the most important parts of the Duck Race — now presented by First Tech Credit Union — is the agencies selected to benefit from it each year. Local non-profit groups send in applications and a panel narrows those down to the final five “recipient agencies.” This year, those are Family Relief Nursery, Birth to Three, Center for Community Counseling, Direction Service and WomenSpace.
Last year, 64,629 ducks raced down the Willamette River and every one meant $5 for those recipient agencies, totalling more than $320,000.
You might wonder — when you buy your ticket — how does it get matched up with your duck? That’s where the “banding party” comes in. Thousands of ducks get shipped to Eugene and the Thursday before the race, hundreds of volunteers sticker each one with a number corresponding to a ticket. Then, they all go into a customized Sanipac dumpster and wait for the big day.