IDAHO FALLS — Twenty thousand rubber ducks raced down the Snake River on Saturday and each one tried to quack their way towards a finish line to win a prize.
The ducks were all part of the 31st annual Great Snake River Greenbelt Duck Race put on by the Idaho Falls Rotary Club. The rubber ducks are given numbers, which lets participants adopt a duck for a small amount of money.
The famous duck drop happened north of The Falls overlook near the Best Western Driftwood Inn. The 20,000 ducks were put in a giant yellow dumpster bin and then taken up by a crane and dumped into the Snake River. The ducks then race down the river to win a prize.
A special surprise came out of the bin this year — an inflatable shark.
Mike O’Bleness, a member of the Idaho Falls Rotary Club, told EastIdahoNews.com that he has been helping with the duck race for the last 15 years.
“This year, I got to help with the booms in the water and I had a lifejacket on and I was out in the river. That’s been fun,” he said.
O’Bleness explained that they set up a floating boom in the water where the ducks will run up against it. It then puts the ducks in a line and then they are scooped out as they cross the finish line.
The duck race is done for a purpose and is a fundraiser for the community.
“It’s just a great community event that the Rotary Club puts on and the proceeds go to the greenbelt and we’ve been working the last five or six years on Heritage Park,” he said.
According to the duck race website, the event has raised more than $6 million through duck adoptions over the years, with matched funds by the City of Idaho Falls. After event expenses, all of the remaining funds go into making improvements along the River Walk/Greenbelt. For the past six years, the funds have gone toward the development of the city’s newest park along the River Walk – Heritage Park.
He said they generally raise $60,000 to $70,000 from the duck race. This year, the rotary club was able to reach its goal of selling ducks.
“Last year, we sold out 19,000 ducks, so this year we went to 20,000 ducks and there’s already talk that maybe next year we will do 25,000, which would be a record,” he said.
Once the ducks are done racing in Idaho Falls, he said they will move on to the next duck race.
“This flock of ducks will move on and go to another duck race in Washington. These ducks travel all over the U.S. doing races,” O’Bleness said.
The grand prize this year is a 2014 Jeep Wrangler Limited Sport Willys donated by Idaho Falls Cars & Trucks. The first prize is a 2022 Polaris 4 Wheeler donated by Idaho Central Credit Union. Other prizes include a dining package valued at $1,250, two-season golf passes up to $1,800 value and more.
Here is the full list of winners from the event:
- Grand Prize: Doyle Crossley
- First Prize: Deedee Martin
- Second Prize: Jessica Dance, who won 14 karat diamond earrings from Alpine Jewelry, priced at $2,500
- Third prize: Kurt Krupp, who won two season golf passes
- Other winners: Larry Stucki, Shawn Cleverly, Jeffrey Arlen, Shelly Woolstenhulme, John Wilson, Jordan Fielding, Brett Skaar and Dana Mitchell
Stucki won an original Watercolor by Gloria Miller Allen. Cleverly and Arlen both won dining packages. Woolstenhulme won four passes to every event at the Eastern Idaho State Fair and Wilson won $1,000 in fuel to KJs Super Store. Fielding won $1,000 to Sam’s Club, Skaar a $1,000 ski rental for four to Bill’s Bike Shop and Mitchell won a $1,000 cash prize from Carey Law.