Above / What did one wise quacker say to the other? “My Cubs hat is attached with duck tape.”
The Naperville Riverwalk Foundation with presenting sponsor Busey Bank will host the 4th Annual Riverwalk Duck Race at 10AM Wed., Aug. 14. The rain or shine event promotes an environmentally-friendly educational message, “Don’t feed the ducks. Take a quack. Race them.”
With two different sizes of toy ducks, the nonprofit Riverwalk Foundation aims to create awareness about protecting waterfowl as well as an understanding for the care and maintenance of the attractive Riverwalk, a natural treasure along the DuPage River in the heart of downtown Naperville.
The main event is the big float with up to 2,000 plastic ducks from the footbridge near Centennial Park to the Eagle Street Bridge. The first duck to the finish line will win $1,981.
Why $1,981? That’s the year the City of Naperville celebrated its sesquicentennial anniversary. Thirty-eight years ago, “Nifty 150” was the cry from one party to the next, and the Riverwalk was the gift from the citizens to the City.
The second event is the so-called “Creative Costume Contest,” featuring more than 20 jumbo rubber ducks decked out in themes to represent local businesses, nonprofit agencies and individuals. Naperville Responds for Veterans, DuPage Children’s Museum, 360 Youth Services, DuPage PADS, NCTV17, Project HELP, Little Friends, Naperville Area Humane Society, Heart of a Veteran, and Loaves & Fishes Community Services are among 11 nonprofit jumbo ducks sponsored by Busey, ready to compete with all the others in outstanding outfits that distinguish them.
For the fun of it, “Jumbo Duck competitions” will pit contestants against each other for friendly “bragging rights” and photo opportunities as the Riverwalk Foundation again aims to educate about protecting and enjoying river wildlife everywhere in the world.
Every Jumbo Duck sponsored by Busey also comes with a Five-Buck Duck. And if one of the Busey Bank sponsored Five-Buck Ducks wins the race, the prize will be divided equally among the 11 nonprofits to win as much as $180 each!
“If this year is anything like the previous years, duck sales will begin heating up this week and next,” said Riverwalk Foundation President John Cuff, also Duck Race Chairman. “We appreciate seeing parents bring their kids to watch the race and maybe learn something about the history of the Riverwalk.”
Cuff added, “Passing the story of volunteerism and can-do spirit that built the Riverwalk onto the next generation is one of our goals.”
Time is still available to create a team or to enter in support of an existing team at www.riverwalkduckrace.com. Duck racers are available for $5 each and in a variety of packages for a chance to win $1,981 (first place), $500 (second place) and $250 (third place). Jumbo ducks are $100 each.
For more than 20 years, Riverwalk Foundation publicity has urged visitors to the Riverwalk to let wildlife find their own food in nature. Simply and directly put, “Don’t feed the ducks bread or human snacks!”
‘Nature always wears the colors of the spirit.’ —Ralph Waldo Emerson
Two duck races at once
Jumbo Duck race runs concurrently with Riverwalk Duck Race, more or less
The “People’s Choice” for the Jumbo Duck “Creative Costume Contest” returns at 9:15AM Wed., Aug. 14, just outside the Visitor’s Center by Moser Tower.
Individuals who show up will be given two free raffle tickets in order to vote for their two favorite decorated ducks.
Depending on the water level of the DuPage River, the Jumbo Ducks also will be released to float. Last year, though the little plastic ducks were released first, Jumbo Duck MACLYN (the aqua blue one on the table) came in first for bragging rights only. MACLYN was followed close behind by the first three prize-winning plastic ducks.
Same time this year!
Again, voting for the Jumbo Duck begins at 9:15AM, followed by the Duck Race at 10AM. It’ll all be finished before 11AM.
Meanwhile, keep tabs on the Riverwalk at www.napervilleriverwalkfoundation.org and remember to help keep wildlife healthy and wild.
‘Why is the duck race held mid-week instead of on the weekend?’
The event was designed to attract youngsters on a “school day” just before school begins, a little earlier than Last Fling. Last Fling also is held, in part, along the Riverwalk. Coincidentally, the Riverwalk was dedicated on Labor Day during Last Fling on Sept. 7, 1981.
The duck race is designed to educate families and youngsters about the Riverwalk, how it was imagined to commemorate Naperville’s 150th birthday in 1981, then built by volunteers in what is now a public/private partnership that includes the City of Naperville, Naperville Park District, Riverwalk Commission and Riverwalk Foundation.
Further, the Duck Race is to raise awareness to let wildlife be wild as well as to respect the environment everywhere and to care for our city’s natural treasure.
‘Nature always wears the colors of the spirit.’ —Ralph Waldo Emerson
Can-do volunteer spirit built the Riverwalk
The entertaining and quick morning event aims to create awareness about the volunteer spirit that has imagined the private/public partnership and built the Riverwalk since its inception to commemorate the City’s sesquicentennial in 1981. The Riverwalk was dedicated on Labor Day, Sept. 7, 1981.
The event also is a time to highlight some lessons learned since the city’s pride and joy along the DuPage River began to grow brick by brick into a beautiful gathering place for friends and family. The natural treasure also has attracted native wildlife perfectly capable of finding its own food in the river and along its banks. Ducks, geese, great blue heron, double-crested commodore are four of the waterfowl most commonly spotted.
‘Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn.’ —Benjamin Franklin
Watch ducks & ducklings! Let wildlife be wild!
Some visitors along the Riverwalk think they are doing the ducks, geese and other wildlife a favor by feeding them bread and other human snacks. Thirty-eight years of experiences along the Riverwalk have come with an education. Fact is, feeding waterfowl human food creates health problems, overcrowding and aggressive behavior for the wildlife and disrupts their natural habitat.
Ducks and geese are the two waterfowl that make the most messes along the winding brick path when humans feed them. Goose droppings, in particular, are known to carry unhealthy parasites that can infect humans. Constant clean-up costs Naperville Park District maintenance crews time and taxpayers money.
Signs placed along shorelines of the Riverwalk and throughout the nation remind folks “Don’t feed the ducks.” International awareness signs at rivers, lakes and streams throughout the world started long before the signs were set in Naperville.
‘All good things are wild and free.’ —Henry David Thoreau
Engaging & enjoyable education
To participate in the Riverwalk Duck Race, simply visit www.riverwalkduckrace.com.
Ducks range in price from a Five Buck Duck to a $20 Quack Pack with five ducks to a $100 Family Flock with 25 ducks. You don’t have to be present to win.
Watch for the Big Frog, a costumed character representing Riverwalk Duck Race sponsor Big Frog T-shirts & More of Naperville.
Big Frog will be jumping around handing out bookmarks that explain why it’s important to protect and enjoy the river wildlife without feeding them.
Other sponsors are Colbert Custom Framing & Art Printing, Friedrich-Jones Funeral Home and Positively Naperville.
Duck numbers are available for adoption until 11:59PM Tues., Aug. 13, or until all 2,000 numbers are sold.
For more information about the Riverwalk Foundation, visit www.napervilleriverwalkfoundation.org.