A good, big net is key to catching plastic ducks as they float down the Deschutes River, even after the Great Drake Park Duck Race is done.
That's the advice from some of the Boy Scouts and their leaders in Troop No. 23, which teamed up with Rotary Club volunteers from around Bend to capture thousands of ducks Sunday in the annual event.
“The bigger nets are the easiest,” said Zach Clinkscales, 15, a Scout and sophomore at Summit High School.
Along with a large net, it takes sound strategy to secure the ducks.
“You just find a pack and get them all at once,” said Michael Moyer, 13, another Scout and an eighth grader at High Desert Middle School. Moyer was in a kayak and filled the hull with 100-200 ducks using his method.
There were more than 18,000 ducks in the race, in its 24th year, said event organizer Leslie Weaver. A crane poured the ducks from a bin off the Galveston Avenue bridge, and the race covered Mirror Pond from there to just downstream of the Drake Park footbridge. Put on by four Rotary Clubs, the duck race is a fundraiser for Central Oregon charities.
“Every year it is different because each club gets to select their own,” she said.
This year money raised by the race went to seven charities: Family Kitchen, Kemple Clinic, KIDS Center, MountainStar Family Relief Nursery, West Foundation, Shots for Tots and The LOFT. Tickets sold for $5 each, and this year the race brought in more than $90,000.
“And almost all of that money gets distributed to the charities,” Weaver said. “We have a little bit of overhead (for the race), but not very much.”
The 20 top-finishing ducks earned those holding the tickets tied to their numbers a prize ranging from a $200 gift certificate for a piercing or tattoo at Dragonfly Body Art to a $20,000 voucher at Robberson Ford Mazda. Winners did not have to be present to win.
That's fortunate for Zlatina Velikova, 27, of Bend, who won the top prize. She was at work serving at a cafe in town.
Reached by phone Sunday afternoon, Velikova said she bought two tickets two weeks ago for ducks in the race. She said she's never won a big prize before and she's excited to go and see the selection of cars now available to her. So what might she get?
“I'm not sure yet,” Velikova said. “I'm just going to go take a look. I want to get a new car, a brand new car.”
While their two tickets didn't produce a winner, Jill Moore, 45, of Bend, and her two kids — Addison Moore, 7, and Carson Moore, 9 — still had a fun day at the duck race. She said she'd bought tickets for the kids before, but this was the first time they came down to watch the ducks float.
“It's nice to know your money goes to a good cause,” Moore said.