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Waves of summer fun at a breezy Great Duck Race on the Saugatuck

Published 6:43 pm, Saturday, June 21, 2014

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  • More than 2,500 rubber ducks are dumped onto the Saugatuck River for the start of the Great Duck Race on Saturday, sponsored by the Westport Sunrise Rotary Club. Photo: Jarret Liotta / Westport News
    More than 2,500 rubber ducks are dumped onto the Saugatuck River for the start of the Great Duck Race on Saturday, sponsored by the Westport Sunrise Rotary Club. Photo: Jarret Liotta

 

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While the ducks themselves seemed to run a-fowl of Saturday's brisk winds, the Great Duck Race on the Saugatuck River was another fundraising feather in the cap of the Westport Sunrise Rotary Club.

This year's event, the club's sixth annual, was moved to Jesup Green and, besides the race between thousands of bright-yellow rubber duckies, it featured music, face painting, food, rock wall climbing and a politician dunk tank.

It all buoyed a race that raises at least $20,000 each year for a variety of charities that the Sunrise Rotary supports.

Because of strong winds blowing upriver, however, the 2,500 or so little ducks -- poured off the Post Road bridge by a bulldozer into the Saugatuck -- struggled to make their way the 100 or so feet to the finish line with a top prize of a $5,000 gift card for the person holding the ticket number for the first-place finisher.

But no one seemed to care. Instead, activities and fun continued for hundreds of visitors to attractions on the green.

"Today is about community getting together and sharing, to support the fundraising that the Rotary does for our local charities," said June Getraer, one of many Sunshine Rotary members, recognizable in their duck-yellow tee-shirts, volunteering at the event.

"Congratulations to Rotary," said state Sen. Toni Boucher, who attended the event. "They do so much good work all over the world."

Among the attendees was First Selectman Jim Marpe, who took the first turn in the dunk tank.

"It's great to give the taxpayers and the citizens of Westport the opportunity to express their concerns to the first selectman directly," he said, after several dramatic dunkings.

"I think it's great," said Erynn Keefe of Westport, who attended the event for the first time. "The weather is wonderful and there are a lot of local businesses and a lot of age-appropriate activities."

"This is my first time here and it just seems like a perfect community event," she said.

"This is a glorious day," said Steve Lewine, president of the Westport Rotary Club, the town's other Rotary group. "Beautiful weather, people feeling really good about things."

"It's all about helping other people, so this is a great day for Westport celebrating that ideal," he said.