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Thursday, June 13, 2024

Naperville Riverwalk Duck Race aims to return in 2022


Above / Here’s hoping this Riverwalk duck tale fits the bill with a happy ending near the Eagle Street Bridge one of these days. (PN Photo)

Update, July 7, 2021 / After much deliberation, the Riverwalk Foundation opted to hold off hosting the Riverwalk Duck Race until 2022. Meanwhile, the Riverwalk will begin its 40th year on Labor Day Weekend. Watch for details about a brief rededication ceremony being planned on Mon., Sept. 6. Thanks to the Naperville Park District and past presenting sponsor, Busey Bank!

Original Post, Aug. 11, 2020 / Back in 2016, members of the Naperville Riverwalk Foundation took a quack at hosting its first duck race to celebrate the 35th anniversary year of the city’s natural treasure. Families and friends responded by purchasing numbered plastic ducks for $5 each with a chance to win cash prizes. The grand prize was $1,981, an amount chosen to represent the year of the City’s sesquicentennial, the reason the Riverwalk was imagined for the community in the heart of downtown Naperville. Busey Bank stepped up to be presenting sponsor.

Then for the next four years just prior to the start of school, the Naperville Riverwalk Duck Race continued, presented every time by Busey Bank.

The aim of the event always has been to have some fun educating the community about the deleterious effects of feeding human snacks, especially bread crumbs, to ducks, geese and other waterfowl.

Feeding wildlife can create health problems for the animals. Thanks for letting all ducks, geese and waterfowl find food on their own in nature.

The duck race was planned mid-morning at the end of summer vacation just before school began, providing another opportunity to visit downtown Naperville for back-to-school shopping and lunch after the race.

Then in late January 2020, coronavirus arrived, ruffling everybody’s feathers with an uncertain future; and by mid-March, businesses and parks throughout Illinois were locked down. Duck race organizers joined hundreds of other event planners to wait and see before resetting the date on the summer calendar.

By June, organizers opted to bank the family-friendly fundraising event until 2021. Just as many summertime special events that raise funds for unmet needs, the Riverwalk Duck Race— known to attract hundreds of cheering fans, all gathered near the Eagle Street Bridge to watch as many as 2,000 colorful plastic ducks float from the foot bridge along the DuPage River until they crossed the finish line— was put on hold, mindful of social distancing and other safety protocols.

The Riverwalk Duck Race raised funds by offering jumbo rubber duckies to enter the Creative Costume Contest for $100 each. Little plastic ducks with numbers from 1 to 2,000 were sold online for five bucks. They’ll likely be back in 2021.

The past few weeks, folks have inquired about the status of the 2020 five-buck duck race. Some folks suggested hosting a “virtual” event. Organizers were grateful for the interest, but opted not to wing it this summer, as volunteers who coordinated the duck race in the past were hyper busy with their day jobs.

Plans are to host the Riverwalk Duck Race again in 2021. 

“We hope everybody will plan to join us next summer when all the numbered ducks again float down the DuPage River—and we can all watch without a mask,” said John Cuff, president of the Riverwalk Foundation. “Meanwhile, follow local safety protocols and enjoy the Riverwalk.”

Find historic markers every day that tell the story of the Riverwalk

 Discover something monumental during every visit to the Riverwalk. 

A granite marker located between Main and Jackson streets lists the major donors of the Riverwalk when the winding brick path was dedicated on Labor Day, Sept. 7. 1981. (PN Photo)
The Riverwalk Covered Bridge, funded by Moser Lumber in 1981, crosses the DuPage River at Webster Street and was the first of three covered bridges along the winding brick path between Jefferson Avenue and Hillside Road. The Century Walk sculpture depicts businessman Jim Moser and Mayor Chet Rybicki as “Riverwalk Visionaries,” two men who led the community-wide initiative to mark the City’s 150th birthday in the heart of downtown Naperville.
Dedicated in 1988, the Farmers Plaza at Eagle Street overlooks the quarry. Names of farm families engraved on the monument that is topped with a vintage plow oftentimes are found on street signs throughout Naperville, too.
Rotary Hill surrounded by Riverwalk paths provides plenty of space to spread out and play near Moser Tower with the 72-bell carillon, built to ring out the new millennium. “Big Joe,” the largest commemorative bell weighing nearly six tons, is dedicated to the memory of Captain Joe Naper, founder of Naperville in 1831. Can you hear it?

Waddle friends of the Riverwalk do?

The Naperville Riverwalk will continue to attract visitors to the sights and sounds of summer along the brick path. Plenty of picnic tables welcome friends and families to pick up lunch or dinner to-go at one of downtown’s many eateries. Simply remember to follow guidelines and safety protocols promoted by the Naperville Park District, always respectful of the health benefits from the great outdoors.

Find picnic tables at the Grand Pavilion, just west of Centennial Park and Centennial Beach.

Thanks for getting to know about the Riverwalk Duck Race 2021

In 2018, the Riverwalk Foundation added Jumbo Ducks for the fun of it. Busey Bank welcomed 10 local nonprofit businesses to decorate ducks to participate in the Jumbo Duck Creative Costume Contest. Other businesses did, too. And folks of all ages voted for their favorites.

Established in 1997, the Naperville Riverwalk Foundation is a nonprofit, charitable organization. Its mission is to promote, educate and enhance while serving as a conduit for financial gifts that augment the annual commitments of the City of Naperville, Riverwalk Commission and the Naperville Park District to design, build and maintain the Riverwalk.

For more information about the Riverwalk Foundation, visit www.napervilleriverwalkfoundation.org.

To review how folks have supported the Riverwalk Foundation with a five-buck duck, check out Riverwalk Duck Race. Then take a chance same time next year.

Let wildlife be wild! Allow all waterfowl to find food naturally.

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PN Editor
PN Editor
An editor is someone who prepares content for publishing. It entered English, the American Language, via French. Its modern sense for newspapers has been around since about 1800.