Flock of yellow duckies makes splash for Sunrise Rotary cash
Duck! There was a "fowl" invasion of small yellow creatures in downtown Westport on Saturday.
In addition to a flock of thousands of yellow plastic duckies floating on the Saugatuck River, there were ducks on hats, ducks on shirts, duck figurines and ducks with wild and crazy "duck-orations."
The occasion was the annual Great Duck Race sponsored by the Westport Sunrise Rotary, which in addition to the signature river race, featured food vendors, children's crafts, jazz performances, bouncy castles and all kinds of duck-themed merchandise.
The event raises money for Sunrise Rotary's donations to area charities.
"Last year, we raised $30,000 for 27 charities," said Dennis Wong, a Rotary member. "The main thing is raising money for people changing and saving lives, but also fun, fellowship and community. We want to give our time, energy and money to help."
All along the downtown riverfront, crowds under sunny, hot skies took in all the activities, many festooned in the bright yellow colors of the plastic duckies.
At one booth, people registered their ducks for the race, each numbered on the underside for later identification. At another table, folks tried their luck by tossing tennis balls at an inner tube floating in the river for duck-themed prizes.
Olivia Flinn, a 2-year-old Westporter, was amused with the sound she could make with a duckbill-shaped noisemaker that her father, Brian, had given her.
Representatives of the Mini Maker Faire initiative showed homemade machines that made duck figures and duck carvings.
A favorite attraction was the ducks decorated by local businesses. A notable entry was from Westport Cinema Initiative, showing a mini theater with "Duck Soup" posters and Howard the Duck sitting by in a director's chair.
Twins Selina and Aliana Aspesi, 6, from Norwalk had fun making duck-themed bonnets in a crafts area. Their mother, Paula, said, "We were on the way to the doctor, saw this going on and decided to stop in. Every other year we had heard about it, but missed it. We bought a duck and we're going to win. Everything's really nice, relaxed, not stressful."
The Bridgeport Sound Tigers sponsored a roulette wheel to spin for prizes. Karen Toth, wearing a wide-brimmed hat decorated with more than a dozen plastic ducks, was trying her hand with her daughter Olivia.
Suhani Aggarwal, 5, and Sahil Vora, 3, were happily clambering in a bouncy castle, while Ben Smereczniak of Westport and Beena Panicker enjoyed a pleasant stroll along the riverside with Bentley the Rat Terrier.
At the appointed time, a front loader dumped more than 2,600 registered yellow ducks into the water. They were herded by kayakers into a center channel and released, floating down river toward a narrow finishing gate. The first 10 finishers were cash winners for their sponsors, with a top prize of $5,000.