The following information was made possible from Friends of Portsmouth and Andrew McManus.
Portsmouth-Picture this. You’re in your boat strolling down the Ohio River and then you see something catch your eye. What is it? It’s yellow??? It’s rubber ducks??? The river is painted yellow as our small rubber friends journey down in a race. Some were faster than others, some seemed not to care, but along the river they went. This was the view we all got to witness Sunday at 5:00 PM.
There was a discussion back in May about this idea with Friends of Portsmouth members and it has all come to fruition. Now that the 1st annual Ducky Derby has concluded a sit down with Hailee Barbarits (Chief Organizer) and a Q&A on all things ducks:
1. How did the Ducky Derby come about?
-The Ducky Derby is an event that many groups take part of throughout the country, typically in order to fund raise for a particular goal. In this instance, the 501c3 organization, Friends of Portsmouth, was seeking out a way to raise funds that brought attention to the river. It was then decided that the Ducky Derby would be an ideal event to accomplish both goals and would also be entertaining for children to watch rubber ducks being launched off a bridge.
2. What process did you take regarding the research of said Ducky Derby?
Once it was decided that we would execute the Ducky Derby, I immediately took to researching proper Ducky Derby procedures and how other organizations conducted it including: prizes they offered, prices to sell ducks, how long before they began selling ducks, cutoff dates/times for selling ducks, the types of bodies of water typically used, and the means of collecting the ducks from the water. Tim Wolfe also assisted in this process by contacting locals who have conducted ducky derbies in the past and presently.
3. Were there any hurdles that needed jumped in the planning and implementation?
Initially, it was determined that the Scioto River would be the best location to dump the ducks, as the water is calmer. However, closer to the event, the team found that it would be difficult for spectators to attend, and just within days of the event, the location was changed, and the Grant Bridge and Ohio River became the event location. There was also spectacular innovation upon execution. The Ducky Derby team created a mega pool noodle that measured around 150 feet, which was pulled into the water and successfully kept the ducks from escaping and flowing down the Ohio River.
4. Anything that went easier than you expected?
My initial concerns were affiliated with the currents of the Ohio River. I had believed that collecting the ducks on kayaks would be dangerous and that we would lose several ducks in the River. The weather was beautiful, and the Ohio River was in excellent kayaking condition. To my surprise, the ducks stayed together for the most part, and allowed for an easy collection of 1st, 2nd and 3rd place.
5. What are your plans for the 2nd annual Ducky Derby? Bigger? Faster? Stronger?
Next year, I plan to have more ducks involved in the race, along with events surrounding the Ducky Derby, perhaps involving more kayakers, games in York Park for kids, and a way to allow the public to get their hands involved in the Ducky Derby.
6. What are the proceeds for said ducky derby going towards?
The funds raised by the Ducky Derby are going directly toward community events that Friends of Portsmouth organizes, which includes the boat races and the incredible Typhoon Tommy. Any funds past that will be going toward the next big project in the Boneyfiddle District: Winterfest.
7. Any closing thoughts?
The Ducky Derby was a project of several moving parts. Every person on the team took on a special role and made their contribution that allowed the event to come together flawlessly. It is so important when running events like this that there is a committed team excited to perform their part they have and doing it to the best of their ability. I think that is what is so special about Friends of Portsmouth—everyone is eager to do their part and each individual has their unique skill sets that add value to every project FOP partakes in. Community support is also imperative for these events. The area needs positive energy and people who are willing to take the risk and step outside to experience what our city has to offer. These things are what makes Portsmouth a better place to live, and I am proud of the effort that the community as a whole has put into improving the city and surrounding areas.
The winners of the 2019 Ducky Derby are:
1. Craig Bailey – Duck #1191
2. Jack Jewett – Duck #937
3. Kathy Allegra – Duck #839