Ducky Derby

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For the past nineteen years, the Rotary Club of Aspen has held a terrifically successful fundraising event: our annual Ducky Derby. Past club president, Jack Brendlinger, proposed this event in 1991 and we have by now raised well over $2,000,000 for the benefit of local youth, health and human services. This is a remarkable record considering the life-expectancy of these duck races is only three to four years!

How does this race work? We lease up to 30,000 small yellow rubber ducks and the public “adopts” one or more of them for the race. Several evenings before the race, at our “Butt Stickering Barbeque”, club members place coded stickers on their wee bottoms. At the appointed time on race day (usually the second Saturday of August), a truck loaded with these ducks dumps them into the Roaring Fork River that flows through Aspen. Booms are set up along the sides of the river and at the finish funnel the winning ducks into an eight-foot transparent tube. When the tube is full, it is handed to non-club member judges who remove the winning ducks and match the codes with names and addresses stored in a computer.

Besides setting up the course in the river, club members turn a local park into a party venue for the community. There are games (set up by non-profit organizations as another way of earning funds), food and drink, and live music.

There is a lot of work involved to put this event on, but we have found this binds members together in fellowship as nothing else does! There are numerous sub-committees to serve on and participation is expected by all club members.

Youth groups are also afforded the opportunity of “adopting out” ducks to the public and they then retain nearly all funds raised. This has become a windfall for those organizations that participate actively. After all expenses are taken care of, we solicit applications from non-profit organizations so we can dispense all remaining funds.

This has been a great event, not only for the communities of the Roaring Fork Valley but for every one of our club members. It really is something to be proud of!