If you go
What: 23rd annual Yampa River Rubber Ducky Race
When: 10 a.m. Saturday
Where: Yampa River, Brooklyn Bridge at Fifth Street to the Depot Art Center at 13th Street
Cost: Tickets cost $10 per duck and are available from Yampa Valley Medical Center Auxiliary members, noon to 6 p.m. through Friday at City Market, noon to 6 p.m. Thursday and Friday at Safeway and at the Brooklyn Bridge on race day.
Steamboat Springs It happens every year, but that doesn’t make the spectacle any less entertaining.
At 10 a.m. Saturday, 2,500 yellow rubber ducks will tumble from barrels into the Yampa River at the Brooklyn Bridge. They’ll bob along, most likely helped by hordes of children and other onlookers, the unwitting participants in a race from Fifth Street to the Depot Art Center.
The 23rd annual Yampa River Rubber Ducky Race is a fundraiser put on by the Yampa Valley Medical Center Auxiliary. Tickets will be sold right up to the event for $10 per duck. The ducks are numbered, and prizes go to race winners and others.
“The funny thing is … there always seems to be one duck that’s ahead of all the other ducks, and after that one duck for some reason makes it down the fastest, there will be groups of five and 10,” event chairwoman Tosia Sauter said, “but there always seems to be one duck that leads the pack.”
About 150 prizes will be given away, she said.
The prizes always include an adult season pass to Steamboat Ski Area, Sauter said. This year, other prizes include Denver Broncos and Colorado Avalanche tickets, both of which come with lodging in Denver, as well as a helicopter ride, golf packages, savings bonds and packages from local merchants.
“It is the auxiliary’s major fundraiser, and it’s really a good fundraiser because we have very few expenses,” she said. “All the merchants and all these places donate the prizes.”
The ducks take about 20 minutes to get downriver, Sauter said, but sometimes stragglers pop up after as much as an hour. She said about 10 ducks escape collection each year, and they’ve appeared as far away as Craig.
“Everybody helps collect the ducks, and that’s lots of fun,” Sauter said. “In fact, I think that’s how I got involved, helping collect the ducks.”
Kiwanis Club members and the Cub Scouts help the auxiliary with the event. The auxiliary keeps the ducks, Sauter said, but souvenir rubber ducks will be available for purchase.
Duck tickets will be sold from noon to 6 p.m. all week at City Market and from noon to 6 p.m. Thursday and Friday at Safeway. They’re also available from auxiliary members and at the Healthcare Foundation for the Yampa Valley, 385 Anglers Drive. If any are left Saturday — organizers sold out by then last year — they’ll be sold starting at 8:30 a.m. at the Brooklyn Bridge.
Proceeds will go toward the purchase of a Cepheid GeneXpert System for YVMC. The diagnostic system helps with more timely detection of disease-causing germs and thus helps reduce the risk of complications from those germs, Sauter said. The Healthcare Foundation’s Penguin Plunge this winter also will raise money for the system.
The ducky race is a consistently popular family event, YVMC spokeswoman Christine McKelvie said in an e-mail. Spectators are invited to watch at the race start and then walk or bike along the Yampa River Core Trail to the finish line, she said.
Sauter agreed that it’s a family-friendly event.
“My favorite part of the race is to see these 2,500 ducks go in the river and then to watch how much the children enjoy the race,” she said. “They love the race.”
— To reach Blythe Terrell, call 871-4234 or e-mail email@example.com