ESTES PARK, Colo. — Thousands of people ignored overcast skies and an occasional sprinkle to take part in the 21st annual Estes Park Duck Race. This year’s race raised more than $112,000 for 66 charities in the Estes Valley.
“We had a very successful race,” said Chuck Coffey, chairman of this year’s race. “Considering the recession, we’re just extremely happy everybody stepped up.”
Coffey said the duck race broke two records this year:
• Most prizes ever donated by merchants – 846
• Most duck adoptions in two days – more than 3,000 were recorded Thursday and Friday.
Nearly 6,000 ducks (5,903) were adopted for $20 each. The Rotary Club of Estes Park retains only $1 of the $20 as seed money for next year’s race. The other $19 goes to the charity the person selects on the duck adoption form.
The number of ducks adopted this year was down slightly from last year and two years ago when more than 7,000 ducks went into the water. But Coffey was extremely pleased with both the number of adoptions this year and the generosity of area merchants who donated prizes.
“Without their incredible generosity, all of this would not be possible,” said Coffey.
The charity that sold the most duck adoption forms is the Eagle Rock School. It sold 710 adoptions and will receive $13,490. The second biggest seller was the 8th Grade Washington Trip Fund, which sold 601 adoptions and will receive $11,419. The two schools wrestle every year to see who can sell the most duck adoptions.
When asked if he was surprised by anything, Coffey said, “I am disappointed the Estes Park Fire Department dive team didn’t want to participate this year.” The dive team traditionally follows the ducks down Fall River to make sure they all reach the finish line. “On the positive side, we had more than 100 people out here volunteering to spend eight hours of their day to make this all possible,” said Coffey.
Coffey had high praise in particular for members of the Estes Park Rotary Club’s Duck Committee, which runs the race every year. “It is a wonderful group of dedicated volunteers who know what teamwork means,” said Coffey. “No matter the problems or obstacles that come up each year, they always come through.”
A large crowd gathered at the start of the race at Nicky’s Resort and Steakhouse to hear the Riverside Ramblers play and watch the 5,903 ducks drop into Fall River.
Jack Landon, who has been “Keeper of the Ducks” for 14-years, pulled the cord on the bottom of a red steel cage at 1:03 p.m. and the race was on.
Within an hour and 20-minutes, the first duck arrived at Riverside Plaza where the Estes Park Jazz Band, Dick Orleans, a jug band, Bruiser the Dog, Quiltin T. Canvassback (official mascot of the duck race), and other entertainers lent an atmosphere of fun and excitement as the ducks began arriving.
The first duck to reach the finish line belonged to Adrienne Bovee, a student at Eagle Rock School. She won the first of seven big prizes: a 52” Sony LCD flat screen television.
• Lani Bower of Estes Park won a 40” Samsung LCD TV.
• Joel DeJong of Ft. Collins won the Hewlett-Packard 17” laptop computer
• Mieko Ozeki of New Haven, Vt. won the Panasonic Home Theater Kit
• Dean Pierson of Lafayette, La. won the Garmin GPS System
• And Anthony Mateson of Niwot, Colo. and Louise Pinkow of Boulder both won Nikon CoolPix digital cameras.
All of the major prizes were purchased by the major sponsors of the duck race with the exception of a Nikon CoolPix digital camera donated by Western 1-Hour Photo in Estes Park.
A complete list of the prize winners can be found on the Rotary Club website: www.rotaryclubofestespark.org and will be in local papers on Friday.