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Cleaning ducks for adoption
By noon on Sunday, The Rotary Club of Silverdale is hoping all 20,000 of its rubber ducklings will be adopted.
As part of the annual Whaling Days event, the club hosts an "Adopt-A-Duck" campaign to raise money for local charities and causes through its Silverdale Rotary Duck Race event.
The ducklings will be dropped into the waters off of the Silverdale Waterfront Park. The ducklings then float or "race," and the first duck to reach the shore is the winner. The winning duck's adoptive parent will win either $16,000 in cash or a brand new Nissan truck. Additional prizes are given to the next 94 ducks to follow.
This year, residents can adopt one duck for $5 or a "Quack Pack" for $20, which includes five ducks.
"We're trying to sell 20,000 ducks for our 20th year (of doing this event)," said Elayne Burton, Duck Race chairperson. Burton said she was thrilled that the overhead costs were all covered by the generosity of community members and businesses. As a result, every dollar from duck adoptions will be poured back into the community.
"By adopting a duck you are contributing to the programs that support our community," states the Silverdale Rotary Duck Race website. "We want you to know that Adopting Ducks Changes Lives.
Be they the lives of children through donations to programs feeding homeless children, supporting the Teen Center at the Hazelwood YMCA, Stand Up For Kids, providing scholarships for graduating high school seniors, providing dictionaries to third graders or supporting Corey's Day at the Farm the Silverdale Rotary supports our youth."
Burton said the race can take anywhere from 15 minutes to an hour and a half.
"We sometimes use a leaf blower to try to blow 'em," she laughed.
So far, 9,000 ducks have been sold. With a lofty goal of reaching $84,000 total to donate back to the community, the group is coming up a bit short right before the big weekend.
There's no limit to how many ducks one person can buy. The only restriction is that the buyer be 18 or older. Participants do not have to be present to win.
To prepare for the big event, more than 100 volunteers gathered at the gym of the Jeannie Wright Administration Building to scrap off last year's old numbers to be replaced with this year's numbers on Thursday. The excitement about the race and Whaling Days events could be heard in the chatter that filled the gymnasium.
"I love seeing all the different places they donate to," said Carolyn Bisaillon, whose mom is a rotary member. "It's really neat seeing everything put into place."
Even the very first duck chairman who helped with the original event 20 years ago showed up to the scraping and labeling party. He is a current rotary member, and still loves seeing rotary members gather for the duck tagging party.
"It's awesome," Mike Hancock said of the event. "I never had any idea when we started this that this would be here 20 years later. That's what it's all about. Rotary is a community organization … it's probably one of the most successful rotary events in Kitsap County."
Burton also said that those in the community who are seeking financial help can apply for "Duck Bucks" to try and receive help from the rotary club. She encourages any and all organizations that need help contributing to the community to apply.
"We try to spread the money around," she said. "I'm just so grateful for the community support."
Even local dentists will drag their staff out to scrap ducks instead of scraping teeth. Every year, Dr. Mark Heinemann brings his entire staff out to the event to help. True to their field, every worker of his donned blue rubber gloves to take care of scraping and replacing labels.
"We're here every year," said Brooke Warren, an orthodontic assistant. "Dr. Heinemann is a big contributor to the rotary. We're always the most enthusiastic and always the first done."