On Saturday afternoon, 10,683 rubber ducks bobbed in a tight yellow mass on Maggie Pond before being released down the Blue River for Breckenridge’s 29th annual Great Rubber Duck Race. Community members adopted each of the little bath toys for five dollars apiece, raising $132,000 in gross revenue for the Summit Foundation, which uses the money for scholarships and grants to local nonprofits.
Downriver, they floated into a specially-made wooden bridge with a channel wide enough for one duck at a time, and the first 125 finishers were awarded prizes for their winning ducks. The Summit High School girl’s rugby team was on hand in the frigid waters to collect the ducks and return them to the safety of the Summit Foundation’s secret rubber duck warehouse.
“We keep them there the rest of the year. It’s where they do their training for the next race,” joked town Councilmember Elisabeth Lawrence, who also serves on the foundation. “Each one of the ducks is numbered. It’s a real process putting the whole thing on, but we’re a well-oiled machine.”
The business race enjoyed its biggest year yet, with 324 ducks competing to raise $32,400. Turner Morris Roofing took home first prize in the duck-decorating contest with their Willy Wonka duck, a timely homage to the late Gene Wilder who played the beloved character in the 1971 classic Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory. McCrerey Construction’s duck took first prize in the business race and received a VIP Cat Ski Tour for 12 at Keystone.
The kid’s race saw 873 competitors, and some families came all the way from the Front Range to watch the throng of ducks go by from the sunny banks of the Blue River. The grand prizewinner received a child’s Epic Pass for the 2016-2017 ski season.
“It’s a real process putting the whole thing on, but we’re a well-oiled machine.”Elisabeth LawrenceBreckenridge town councilmember
“Each year, we assess whether an event has run its course, as they sometimes tend to do,” said Lawrence. “But, with the duck race, it just gets larger and larger. People really look forward to it because they remembering coming every year as kids, and now they can bring their kids every year.”
She estimated as many as 5,000 people attended this year.
The Great Rubber Duck Race was started by a group of locals 29 years ago, when it raised about $1,250. Now, it has grown to be one of Breck’s iconic Labor Day weekend traditions and a fun way for residents and visitors to contribute to the myriad community organizations supported by the Summit Foundation. It is also one of the longest-running duck races in the country.