“Drop the ducks!” shouted youngsters eagerly waiting to see more than 5,000 yellow duckies cascade over Evergreen Lake dam on Saturday afternoon.
Minutes before the 1 p.m. launch that signaled one of the most important moments of Evergreen’s fourth annual Dam Ducky Derby, the tall ladder on an Evergreen Fire-Rescue truck began extending high into the air and rotating over the dam.
As the crowd called out a 20-second countdown for the drop, firefighters stationed in the bucket at the top of the ladder unfastened the net holding the cache of duckies and released them.
The ducky mass careened downward and landed into the water with a huge whooshing sound.
Wranglers helped the little yellow and black fellows make their way into the swift flowing current of Bear Creek where they began bobbing along jauntily.
And the race was on.
Along the way, kids waded into the creek to help rescue duckies stranded on the side of the stream, using their hands and sticks to guide them.
Families began making their way downstream to the finish line to see which ducks would emerge as the derby winners.
The stakes were high. A $3,000 grand prize would be awarded to the first-place winner. The second and third place finishers would receive $1,500 and $500 respectively.
While waiting at the finish line at Highland Haven, brothers Garret and Trent and their sister Kendyl Born kept a close watch on the ducks as they slowly began to appear along the creek.
However, Garret was only moderately hopeful about his family’s chances of winning the derby with one of the ducks in the Quack Pack they had purchased.
“We won the first year,” said Garret. “We know we had our chance.”
“It’s fun,” said Kendyl. “We try to go every year.”
As the first yellow contenders floated toward the finish line, those gathered cheered them on.
“That’s a lot of ducks,” said a youngster watching their progress to the gate in the creek that marked the end of the race.
“Yeah! Here’s the winner,” called out another spectator as the first duckie floated through the tube in the gate and was placed into a basket.
“I’m shocked … This is surreal,” said first-place winner Jim Sherwood, owner of E-Town Outlet and Evergreen Clothing, when his name was later announced.
Sherwood said this was the first year that he was not actively involved with the Dam Ducky Derby sponsored by the Evergreen Downtown Business Association.
“Every penny of this $3,000 is going back to charitable causes that E-Town and Evergreen Outlet donates to on a regular basis,” Sherwood said.
“This is big Evergreen news,” remarked Joyce Masyga of Endless Travel, who helped give out awards.
The second place winner was Jill Taylor, a Dam Ducky Derby volunteer, who came to the stage at the downtown Evergreen parking lot to accept her award. Third-place winner Nick Boce was not present but will receive his prize, said Trish Wales, EDBA president and organizer of the event.
A prize was also given to the black duck winner, Dominical Design of Indian Hills. The company received an all-inclusive seven-day trip to a Mexican resort, courtesy of Hard Rock Vallarta.
In addition to the main awards, many other participants received gifts packages donated by local merchants.
A portion of proceeds from the event will benefit local children’s charities including Mount Evans Hospice Camp Comfort, Bootstraps scholarships, Evergreen Park and Recreation Special Needs Program and the children’s summer reading program at the Evergreen Public Library.
Contact Sandy Barnes at HYPERLINK "mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org" email@example.com or call 303-350-1042.