A day at the races

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— This time of year, fly fishers or rare late-season tubers usually occupy the cool waters of the Yampa River. But on Saturday, more than 2,000 yellow rubber duckies bombarded the river.

The 18th annual Rubber Ducky Race, organized by the Yampa Valley Medical Center Auxiliary, saw seven trash cans full of rubber ducks dumped from the Fifth Street Bridge into the water to race to the 13th Street Bridge. Along the way, children and adults kept their ducks moving with rakes, ski poles, hockey sticks and tree branches.

"They were all getting caught on the rocks, but I was ready for them," said 8-year-old Bruce Darcy, who waved his green rake proudly.

Darcy was one of many Cub Scouts who stationed themselves in the river and along its shore to help dislodge any wayward ducks.

"We were like, 'Oh boy, we've got a lot coming,'" he said.

For the second year in a row, all proceeds raised from the Rubber Ducky Race went to the hospital's Inf--usion/Chemotherapy Center, which opened last April.

YVMC spokeswoman Mindy Fontaine helped organize the event and was the first to slip on boots and waders to brave the chilly waters to be closer to the action.

"It was a great success," she said. "This event gains popularity every year."

As of Friday, Fontaine estimated that about $21,000 was raised, not including the last-minute ducks that were sold Saturday morning before the race and the novelty ducks that were sold as souvenirs for $5.

"On past race days, we have raised anywhere from another $2,000 to $5,000," she said.

Last year, the auxiliary raised about $23,000 from the race.

Molly Parsons, 13, eagerly waited on the banks of the river to see whether her duck won the race.

"I never really win, but it is fun to watch everybody," she said.

Parsons' favorite part of the race was when the thousands of ducks were dropped into the water. Parsons said it is her family's tradition to get involved with the race, and she even tried to dress like a duck to show some support.

"I always wear my ducky necklace," she said.

Auxiliary member Jane Aromberg took dressing like a duck one step further.

Aromberg looked as if she should be in the water instead of on land in her bright yellow full-body duck suit, made years ago by another auxiliary member.

"It is interesting, because people wouldn't buy tickets if I didn't wear this," she said. "I told someone that if they bought a ticket, I would swim. But I lied.

"I asked one boy if I looked like a duck or a silly grandma, and he said a silly grandma," she said with a laugh.

Auxiliary treasurer Lynn Davis said she was impressed by how many people came to the event.

"I think it's great that the Cub Scouts, the Kiwanis guys and the auxiliary do this every year, whether we need to or not," she said.

The owners of the first 70 ducks that made it to the 13th Street Bridge won prizes. The grand prize was a Steamboat Ski & Resort Corp. season pass.

Steamboat resident Deb Proper had the fastest duck Saturday, followed by a boy named Dillon and third-place winner Maura Glynn.

The prizes included gift certificates, savings bonds and fishing packages.

Fontaine said the money collected from this year's event would go to additional equipment for the Infusion/Chem--otherapy Center as well as purchasing art and other special touches for the center.

-- To reach Alexis DeLaCruz, call 871-4234 or e-mail adelacruz@steamboatpilot.com

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