A day of rain might stop a lot of people from competing, but certainly not a rubber duck.
Saturday’s 15th annual Rubber Duck Derby was held as scheduled, though rain canceled the festival to be held afterward.
Volunteers and spectators weathered the elements to see 16,000 rubber ducks take over Clarks Bridge Park on Lake Lanier.
The event benefited the Boys & Girls Clubs of Hall County. Joyce Wilson, vice president of development and marketing of the clubs, said this year’s derby encountered the worst weather yet.
“We decided early (Saturday) morning to cancel the festival part of Duck Derby,” Wilson said. “It was definitely the coldest, windiest and rainiest Duck Derby. You never know what mother nature will throw at you, but you do the best you can.
“It still went off well. We dumped off all 16,000 rubber ducks.”
The festival was supposed to begin at 10 a.m. Saturday with the derby to follow at 3 p.m. After the festival was canceled, the race was moved to 11 a.m. before the worst of the rain fell, Wilson said.
When all was said and done, Gail Iverson’s “adoptive” duck crossed the finish line first and brought home the $10,000 grand prize.
Wilson said the clubs’ goal this year was to raise $110,000, and she thinks they met that goal.
“We are very grateful to everyone who supported us once again this year,” she said. “This event would not be possible without contributions and support from sponsors, volunteers and of course, all of our ‘adoptive parents.’ This community has such a big heart and continues to give back.”
The money raised from Duck Derby will go toward programs that benefit children and youth ages 6 to 18, including programs for school and academics, healthier lifestyles and character-building.
Wilson said the Rubber Duck Derby is the clubs’ No. 1 fundraiser.
Gainesville Fire Chief Jerome Yarbrough pulled the rubber ducks out of the water as they crossed the finish line.
Yarbrough has served on the Board of Directors for the Boys & Girls Clubs for 15 years, and said coming from a single-parent home himself, he spent a lot of time at the clubs as a kid. He gives them credit for putting him on a positive path and allowing him to give back to the community.
“I was a ‘Club’ kid,” he said. “I attribute a lot of what I am and who I am to the Boys & Girls Clubs. I had some positive guys that instilled in me the right road to take. ... As soon as I got in a position to give back, I gave back.
“We don’t run a baby-sitting program at the Boys & Girls Clubs. We’re there with a vision. We try to be positive. If we can turn a kid around and have them give back to the community, then it’s a success for the Boys and Girls Clubs. It’s a lot of work and commitment, and working for the city of Gainesville, they allow me to participate and give as much time as I can for the organization.”