Community participates in 29th annual duck race for charity

The+Kent+Fire+Department+helps+with+the+duck+races+by+using+their+ladder+as+a+means+to+start+the+race+by+dropping+the+ducks.

Colleen Burns

The Kent Fire Department helps with the duck races by using their ladder as a means to start the race by dropping the ducks.

Colleen Burns, Reporter

Two thousand rubber ducks floated across the Cuyahoga River Saturday at 6 p.m. to raise funds for the Kent Jaycees. This was the 29th year this event took place, and it was featured in the annual Kent Heritage Festival. 

Participants were able to purchase a single duck for $5 or a flock of five ducks for $20 to increase their odds of winning the $1,000 grand prize. Duck number 191 crossed the finish line at Tannery Park first.

The Kent Jaycees are a group of people aged 18 to 40 who work together to better their community while creating networking opportunities for the members in the group. The duck race has been one of the traditions the group has annually.

The first-place winner of $1,000 was duck number 191. Second through fifth place won gift cards to local Kent businesses. (Colleen Burns)

All money raised from the event will go to a variety of donations, said O’livia Kennedy, co- chair of the duck race.  This was the largest amount of ducks purchased to date, she said. 

“Anyone that’s present in Portage County that shows a need for funds or is a non-profit, we allocate funds for that” Kennedy said.

Laura Wiedenfeld bought a flock for her first year participating and enjoyed taking part in a long-standing tradition.

“The chase and trying to catch the ducks was equally as fun, possibly more fun,” Wiedenfeld said. “We were able to make it in time to see them catch the first ducks.”

The clean-up process for the ducks has been perfected over the decades. Members of the Kent Jaycees are diligent to catch all of the ducks in nets and have kayakers follow the river to make sure none were left behind. 

Participants and the duck mascot anxiously wait for a train to pass so the event can start. (Colleen Burns)

“I think the preparation and the time that’s been put into making sure that everyone knows their job and making sure it all gets cleaned up,” said Will Wright, a Kent Jaycees volunteer. “I don’t think we could’ve been more prepared.” 

The event is particularly popular with families as it gives their kids an opportunity to get outside. It was Julia Holme’s first time attending with her mother. 

“My favorite part was seeing the ducks drop,” Holme said.

Colleen Burns is a reporter. Contact her at [email protected]