Marion County Rotary Clubs held the first-ever Duck Derby on Saturday, February 8th at Tuscawilla Park. The goal was to adopt out 5,000 yellow rubber ducks and launch each duck into the water, having them “race” against one another. The winners were 1st place, $2,020 to Bea Cowart; 2nd place, $1,020 to Anne Parker; and 3rd place, $520 to the employees of HDG Hotels.
Duck adoptions were held prior to the event for $5 per duck or $100 for a flock of 24 rubber duckies. During the event, ticket buyers could purchase ducks, and the Rotary Club sold out quickly.
A water “raceway” was set up, and Ocala Fire Rescue staff started the competition by using fire hoses to get the ducks moving. After the winners’ payouts, the additional proceeds benefitted the Discovery Center in Ocala. The derby was held in conjunction with the eighth annual Cattle Drive and Cowboy Round-Up.
Tim Dean, Assistant Area Governor for the six Rotary Clubs in Marion County, was elected “Chief Duck” by the volunteer team, a humorous and precise nod to Dean’s leadership qualities.
“Over the years, I would say we’ve contributed somewhere in the neighborhood of $150,000-$200,000 for the Discovery Center. We got a grant to help install the elevator over there, too,” Dean said.
“We’re excited to be out here supporting Rotary and the Discovery Center. Over the last ten years we’ve helped them to revolutionize that old armory into something we can be proud of as a community.”
With proceeds from the duck adoptions, Dean projected that $18,000 would be donated to the Discovery Center.
Harborview Elementary School kindergarten teacher Renee Mathews looked forward to sharing her experiences from both the Duck Derby and the Cattle Drive and Cowboy Round-Up with her class.
“I’m just really excited to be a part of something that’s fun, free and educational.”