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Rubber ducks race to support Boys & Girls Clubs of Lanier
2018 event includes beer, band at evening Duck Fest
2016 Rubber Duck Derby
Rubber ducks race in Lake Lanier during the 2016 derby. - photo by Scott Rogers

Thousands of ducks flock to Lake Lanier each spring. Well, they don’t really flock as much as they get shipped to Gainesville then pushed off a barge into the lake.

It’s all in an effort to raise money for the Boys & Girls Clubs of Lanier during the annual Rubber Duck Derby, and this year’s derby marks the 20th anniversary. It will take place at 2:30 p.m. Saturday, May 5, at Clarks Bridge Park.

“This event does directly support the hundreds of kids we serve every day,” said Chelsea Clark, event marketing and volunteer coordinator with the Boys & Girls Clubs. “It’s a great mission we have and I think everybody wants to be a part of it.””

Rubber Duck Derby

Where: 3105 Clarks Bridge Road, Gainesville

When: Derby, noon to 3 p.m. Saturday; Duck Fest, 6-10 p.m.

More info: www.duckrace.com/gainesville; 770-532-8102, ext. 304

When the 21,000 ducks are “adopted,” numbers associated with their “adoptive parents” will be written on the bottom of each. They’re then poured out of a barge into Lake Lanier and begin floating down the one-tenth of a mile course to the finish line. The first one to reach the end wins $10,000. The next five win prizes, too.

“Most of our duck adoptions come in the last week,” Clark said. “We hit about 19,600 last year. I think that was the most duck sales we’ve ever had, and we want to overcome that for sure this year.”

A single duck can be adopted for $6, a quackpack of six ducks can be adopted for $30 and a  grandpack of 25 ducks can be adopted for $125.

Clark said the event was able to take back more than $100,000 last year to the more than 6,000 kids at the Boys & Girls Clubs to help with different programs they offer in Hall County. Over the 19 years the derby has been running, it’s raised $1.8 million, so they’re hoping to hit the $2 million mark this year.

“It’s our biggest community fundraiser for sure,” Clark said.

The Rubber Duck Derby will be an all-day event, though. Starting at noon., there will be bounce houses, a petting zoo, food, the Kona Ice truck and other family activities.

Something the derby is adding this year will be Duck Fest. It was canceled because of rain last year, so they’re trying to debut it again this year. It will begin at 6 p.m., after the derby is over, across the street at the Lake Lanier Olympic Park 

“We kind of wanted to celebrate Cinco de Mayo, so it’s the perfect day to do that,” Clark said. “We’ll charge $5 for that event, but all the money raised comes back to support our club members.”

She said there will be food trucks for guests to enjoy along with a few beer taps from Wrenched Bicycles, who claims to have the largest craft beer selection in the Gainesville area. The band Stereotype will be there there for entertainment, too.

“In the past it’s been just a family event, and I know some people have been disappointed,” Clark said. “Because kids and families like to see the duck race, but we really wanted to make sure we had something for everybody this year.”

She hopes the 20th anniversary is a success, just like it has been in years past. Ultimately, Clark said she wants to be able to help the Boys & Girls Clubs of Lanier grow, and she knows it wouldn’t be possible without the community around her.

“It’s really comforting to know that we have this much support throughout the community that doesn’t just come directly from our organization,” Clark said.

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