May 9, 2016
Rubber ducks race for good cause
Bob Ellis/staff photographer
Sisters Skyla, 8, right, and Emma, 9, Gates sit on the bank of Dry Creek in Suggett Park Saturday morning as they watch 5,515 ducks sail downstream in the 20th annual Corn-Ducky Derby.
The race was close. The lead changed eight times throughout the 5-minute-long sprint.
Hundreds from as far away as Ithaca to Tully gathered by the finish line and cheered as the race neared its conclusion.
In the closing seconds the leader pulled away from the rest of the pack and became the lucky ducky to win Cortland’s 20th Corn-Ducky Derby on Saturday afternoon at Suggett Park.
Sponsored by the Cortland Community Service Club, the annual event is a way to give back to the community and provide funding for youth organizations, said Doug Gilbert, chairman of the derby.
For the past few months, the Service Club has worked with local businesses and youth organizations, selling tickets to the event. For every ticket someone bought, they would get a yellow rubber duck entered into the derby. On race day, organizers of the event blocked off a 120-foot-long section of Dry Creek in the park and placed thousands of rubber ducks in a fence upstream. Then when the race started, they removed the fence and let the ducks race downstream.
There were 5,515 tickets sold this year — 128 more than last year — so 5,515 rubber ducks turned the creek yellow as they were swept downstream by the rushing water. Through the sales, the event raised more than $25,000. Part of the money goes to several winners and the rest of the money is given away to help fund local youth projects, Gilbert said.
The owner of the winning duck won $2,500. Second place through 10th won $100. Eleventh through 15th won $50. Sixteenth through 20th won $25. And the owner of the last place duck won $10.
The winning ticket was purchased by Kim Diaz of Cincinnatus and was sold by the Cincy Little Farmers.
“The event went very well,” Gilbert said. “People were always talking about it and wanting to buy tickets. So, it’s been very well received.”
For Cortland resident Beth O’Brien, the Corn-Ducky Derby has been an annual event for the past eight years.
“The kids love to watch the ducks,” O’Brien said, while her three children, Alice, 4, Colin, 7, and Sean, 8, gazed at the stream of ducks .
She and her husband, Kevin, come to the event, mostly for the kids, but O’Brien said she enjoys the atmosphere of the event and seeing the unique displays scattered along the creek — this year designed as scenes from The Wizard of Oz.
The event has been paired in recent years with the American Cancer Society’s “Paint the town Purple” awareness campaign aimed at raising community awareness of cancer. So there were also booths and displays scattered about the park. Combined with the Corn-Ducky Derby’s efforts to raise money for youth programs, the entire event allows the community to be part of a good cause, which is why Cortland resident Jamie Dey said she enjoys coming to the event.
This year was the second time Dey and her husband attended the event.
“We came last year and enjoyed it,” Dey said. “We liked that it was for a good cause. It was fun and we enjoyed watching the ducks,”
Summerhill resident Shawnee Shade attended the derby for the first time this year withher 18-month-old daughter, Evelyn. She said her daughter loves ducks, so the derby looked like a good activity to bringher to, as it is a fun event where there would be ducks in abundance.
“It’s definitely neat,” Shade said. “We’ll be back next year.”
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