Idaho Falls Rotary Club is pushing for ducks to be adopted in advance of the 29th annual Great Snake River Greenbelt Duck Race on Saturday.
The annual race is the club’s major fundraiser for projects along the Snake River, raising $5.5 million over the years through donations and matching funds to create the Japanese Friendship Garden and miles of pathways. The earnings from this year and the previous two races are going to the development of Heritage Park.
“The duck race is all about the greenbelt and whatever projects we need to do around the greenbelt,” Rotary Club event chairman Kevin Call said.
The free events leading into the actual race begin at 10 a.m. Saturday. Speedboats, including the boat that won the Idaho Regatta this year, will race down the Snake River and demonstrations from Idaho Falls Fire Department and Idaho National Laboratory will be held in the morning.
The race itself will begin at 4 p.m. when up to 18,000 ducks will be released into the Snake River from near John’s Hole Bridge and float downstream to the finish line at the bottom of the falls. The owners of the first ducks to finish win the grand prize of a 2018 Jeep Wrangler, with other top prizes ranging from $1,000 gift cards to season golf passes from the city Parks and Recreation Department.
Rotary Club spokeswoman Kerry Hammon said that all 18,000 ducks are usually adopted by the start of the race. There had been 7,567 ducks adopted as of Wednesday afternoon, which she said was up more than 1,000 from this point last year and well on track to sell out on Saturday.
Ducks can be adopted in the days before the race online at www.duckrace.com/idahofalls or in-person at one of the six locations sponsoring this year’s race. Participants can adopt ducks up to an hour before the race begins but nobody will know before the race which of the ducks they sponsored. Instead, each duck is given a serial number that will be randomly assigned to an owner shortly before the event to avoid any fowl, umm foul, play.