It's time to get Quackin'
Want to know one of the best ways to dive into summer here in the Lowcountry? Get your ducks in a row and plan to take part in the 11th Annual Charleston Duck Race on Daniel Island on Saturday, June 10.
It’s when the rubber meets the road - or more specifically when the rubber meets the water - that the real fun begins! The popular event, hosted by The Rotary Club of Daniel Island and a number of other participating Rotary Clubs in the Charleston area, has raised more than $1 million over the past 10 years for local beneficiaries and Rotary projects worldwide.
In a grand spectacle with an unmistakable “wow” factor, more than 30,000 yellow rubber ducks will be dropped from the top of the Wando River bridge on I-526 to the water below, where they will bob along with the current in a race to the finish line at the fishing pier and dock near the Daniel Island Children’s Park. Ducks are available for adoption prior to the event for a suggested donation of $10. Winning ducks have an opportunity to earn their adoptees big cash - with prizes ranging from $1000 to $10,000 for the top finishers.
“It’s an event that is fun for the whole family,” said Daniel Island Rotarian Bill Stevens. “Where else can you have this much fun and do this much good for $10?”
Stevens and other Duck Race volunteers start getting ready for the next race every July, right after the current year’s event is complete. The big work kicks off in January.
“There are a lot of elements to consider, like getting the permit for the Children’s Park, getting permission for the road on 526 where the bridge is - to be closed to traffic - as well as River Landing Drive,” said George Jucha, Duck Race Chair. “We also need the cooperation of the police - Team 5 - and people to manage the river. We have hundreds of feet of containment boom that helps guide the ducks from their drop site at the James B. Edwards Bridge to the finish line at the dock.”
The Daniel Island Rotary originally got the ducks from a company in San Francisco, added Jucha. On race day, they are placed into a big duck dumpster built by the Anchor Sign company. The ducks are then hoisted up off the ledge of the bridge and poured into the water. Each duck has a tiny radio frequency implanted inside, so volunteers can identify its number for tracking purposes. A dedicated “Duck Navy,” a fleet of Rotarians and other volunteers with boats, helps catch any stray ducks that wander away from the flock.
“We have a system, and we follow the plan,” Jucha continued. “We’ve been doing it for 10 years.”
Prior to the big event, the golden gaggle enjoys “just ducky” accommodations in a local storage facility.
“The ducks are washed off carefully after the race,” added Jucha. “They ‘live large’ in the off season in an air conditioned environment at Stockade Storage. That way they don’t degrade. They’re ready for their 11th race!”
Different this year is the addition of a new level of Daniel Island business sponsorships for the event. Those taking part receive print publicity, social media content, and a duck to display in their business. Business sponsors also have an opportunity to engage in a social media program known as “Quacky the Duck,” in which patrons can visit their businesses and post a selfie with Quacky to be eligible to win a prize. Plus, sponsors also receive adopted ducks for the race. A complete list of sponsors is located on the event’s website - www.charlestonduckrace.com.
“The result has been fantastic with over 30 Daniel Island business sponsors participating,” noted Jucha. “…We truly appreciate the support of our business community and ask residents to patronize those establishments.”
Daniel Island Real Estate has served as a platinum level sponsor since the event began.
“As a company, we try to support many events and causes,” said Rick Vale, Daniel Island Real Estate Broker-in-Charge. “Organizations like the Rotary give their time and resources. Our support pales in comparison to the great work they do. So we never hesitate to support their efforts.”
Since its launch in 2007, the Charleston Duck Race has continued to grow each year. Each of the participating Rotary clubs designates one or more Lowcountry charities to support through the event. These non-profit organizations represent a wide selection of charities focused on health, food and nutrition, housing, children and families, and literacy. The Rotary Club of Daniel Island plans to put their proceeds from the race towards programs at Daniel Island School, Philip Simmons Elementary School, and Cainhoy Elementary School. Other Rotary beneficiaries include Camp Happy Days, Carolina Youth Development Center, Berkeley County Library Bookmobile, East Cooper Meals on Wheels, Doors to Freedom, and Dee Norton Lowcountry Children’s Center, as well as other Rotary-directed service programs.
“The Duck Race has allowed Rotary to help improve lives and make better communities on Daniel Island and the Cainhoy Peninsula,” said Daniel Island Rotary Club President Gray Ives.
Among the local projects and programs that have received “duck dollars” over the years are the Daniel Island Commemorative Park, flags displayed on patriotic holidays, a veterans tribute at Summit Place, the Daniel Island Speakers’ Series, holiday food deliveries, scholarships to Trident Tech, and dictionaries distributed to third graders at local elementary schools.
“We have a very good response with the residents of Daniel Island,” added Jucha, in recognition of the island’s support of the Duck Race. “They always look forward to the race and love the idea of helping charities.”
With the race just a couple of weeks away, Rotarians are confident all is moving along right on schedule.
“Right now, we’re pretty confident,” said Jucha. “We’re in good shape.”
To adopt a duck, or for more information, visit www.charlestonduckrace.com.