Rubber ducks float their way to victory

Photo credit: Jessica Banks

On Saturday, Aug. 14, hundreds of members of the Idaho Falls community gathered for the Great Snake River Greenbelt Duck Race. Each year the Idaho Falls Rotary Club puts on this day-long event. Vendors, local businesses and food trucks convene to sell their products at this event.

Individuals were able to purchase rubber ducks to donate money to the bettering of the Greenbelt Riverwalk system.

Photo credit: Jessica Banks

The activities began at 9:30 a.m. At 4 p.m., after a few words of gratitude expressed by the events organizers, a crane dropped the rubber ducks into the Snake River and they floated or “raced” down the Snake River until they each fell off at the start of the waterfalls.

Eliza Leonard, the President of the Idaho Falls Rotary Club, helped organize and put on the event. She said that this year the Rotary Club met their goal of 19,000 sold ducks days in advance, which is very unusual for the duck race.

Participants were able to purchase either one duck for $5 or a “quack” of ducks (pack of 6) for $25.

Photo credit: Jessica Banks

“All of those proceeds go to help build the Greenbelt,” Leonard said. “We don’t have any costs that go into this because we have some incredible sponsors who sponsor prizes that people can win.”

According to the event’s website, among the top prizes available this year were:

— 2014 Rubicon Jeep.

— 2021 Polaris 4-Wheeler.

— Alpine Jewelers $3,000 prize.

— Golf Passes.

In the 30 years this event has been conducted, The Rotary Club has helped raise about $5.5 million to invest in the betterment of the Idaho Falls community.

Occasionally the club chooses an individual to honor and dedicate the event to. This year they chose to dedicate the event to Wyatt Mays, a Bonneville County Deputy who was killed in the line of duty last year.

“I’m not sure we’ve done it for every year but I think it’s a wonderful tribute to somebody in the community who really represents some of the values that we also have in our rotary club, which is service above self,” Leonard said.

Photo credit: Jessica Banks

Jeff Riggins, a junior studying exercise physiology and a local resident of Idaho Falls, attended the event.

“(It’s) a good cause,” Riggins said. “(The) Greenbelt is one of the more well-known attractions here in Idaho Falls nearby the temple. A lot of tour buses come and see and so it’s cool to keep it well conditioned and pretty for people to come see. It is kind of one of the focal points of Idaho Falls.”

Riggins did not have a duck in the race, but he was glad he was able to come out and enjoy the sunshine. He has lived in Idaho Falls for the majority of his life but hadn’t ever come to the event. He was glad to come and see what it was about.

At the end of the race, the organizers fished out the duck that crossed the water fall line first to find whose duck won the race. This year Sue Holmes of Idaho Falls won the biggest prize since her duck crossed the line first.

Blaire Rahman, a senior studying elementary education, also attended the event. She enjoyed the event because it was fun for her and her friends to watch the ducks float down the river and get fished out at the end of the race.

Rahman said she thought it was neat that the funds from the race went to helping maintain the Greenbelt.

She had never been to the duck race during her time at BYU-Idaho, but plans on coming back in the future to enjoy the festivities and the duck race again.

“Next year I will be back to the Duck Race and my duck will be winning,” Rahman said.