It’s a good thing ducks like water. The Great Pootatuck Duck Race may set a record tomorrow.
If the rain continues the way it is being predicted, the Pootatuck River in Sandy Hook Center will be moving pretty quickly on Saturday, May 25. Granted, it will be thousands of rubber ducks going for a swim at 2:30 tomorrow afternoon, but they may make the swim from the Church Hill Road bridge to the Dayton Street bridge in record time.
Rain arrived in the area yesterday and continues to hang over the region. The National Weather Service is predicting that rain will continue tonight and through all of Saturday. That means plenty of water for those rubber ducks to move across the 1,300-foot course. The first one that crosses the finish line tomorrow afternoon will mean $2,000 for one lucky raffle ticket holder. Raffle ticket holders this year are vying for a chance at prizes that are valued at more than $4,300 total.
Festivities begin at 10 am and will culminate with ducks going into the river at 2:30.
For the past 12 years, on the Saturday of Memorial Day weekend, a large crowd has gathered in the park, along riverbanks, and even along the bridge on Church Hill Road to watch for the big moment when a bucket loader is used to tip thousands of yellow rubber ducks into the Pootatuck River. The ducks bob and weave their way downstream to the finish line at the Dayton Street walking bridge, where another large crowd has usually gathered to see whose duck has crossed the finish line first. More than 3,800 ducks went into the river last year.
A collecting bin holding the 20 prize finishers are then transported back to the park, to Duck Race Committee members, who then locate the tickets matching the numbers on the ducks. The announcement of the winners of 20 prizes marks the end of the day’s events.
Rain or shine, the ducks will be going into the river tomorrow.
“The rain plan is, the race will still go on,” Lions Club Duck Race Chairman Bob Schmidt confirmed Friday morning. “The race will be at 2:30.”
Following tradition, tomorrow’s events are scheduled to begin at 10 am, with vendors, exhibitors, and a food tent all set up in the park at 5 Glen Road.
Duck Race tickets have been available for weeks, but many people traditionally purchase their tickets on race day. That option will also be available tomorrow. Lions Club members will be selling tickets, still $5 each, at the corner of Church Hill Road and Washington Avenue.
“We will be selling tickets, so if people still want to get them, they can come by,” Mr Schmidt said. “Even if we have bad rain, I plan to have the tent set up at The Glen, to keep that going, so that people can still buy their tickets.”
Mr Schmidt has contacted the scheduled exhibitors and entertainers, he also said Friday morning. “I’ve told them all to call me just before, or during the race, on my cell, so that we can give them an update about the weather.”
Many vendors and local organizations will have booths set up, from food pantries, dance studios and garden clubs to farms, emergency services personnel and politicians. The NHS Newtown Leo Club, an offshoot of Newtown Lions Club, are hoping to operate a moon bounce, do face painting, and conduct a duck coloring contest for kids.
Live entertainment is scheduled to include live music, magic, dance, juggling and karate demonstrations.
Mr Schmidt fully understands, he said, if people decide to not perform or present displays in the rain.
“We will be set up, the PA system will be set up, even if I have to keep everything under my tent and play CDs, there will be music. We’ll have something,” he promised.