Keeping the River clean was a main focus at the Lion's Rubber Ducky Race on the Kenai River. There was nothing but a few interested harbor seals left after volunteers Netted the winning duck and the "Also swams".
The tide was ebbing Saturday as nearly 1,000 yellow and creatively decorated rubber duckies took to the currents of the mighty Kenai River to prove which generous community ducky owner would end up with bragging rights of the fastest toy in the west and $7,000 in cold cash. The race was sponsored by the Lions Clubs of the Central Peninsula who collectively resurrected the event after a two year hiatus and ended up raising approximately $15,000 according to Soldotna Lion Ed Sleater. “You should have been there, it was a great day for a rubber duck race at Cunningham Park and even the seals in the river seemed to enjoy the competition and swam right along with the ducks,” said Sleater. In the Business Duck run-off the fastest bird proved to be the entry of Morgan Steel of Kenai, “Seemed a little strange to have a ‘Steel Duck’ win a rubber ducky race but that’s what happened before our very eyes, Morgan Steel’s old number ‘955’ bested 25 other competitors and a bunch of seals to win the trophy, however the award for the best decorated ducky went to First American Title,” added Sleater.
Following the Business Duck race, the river skiffs were loaded up for the main event and hundreds of rubber ducks were launched upstream at Cunningham Park. With an exciting photo finish between two top contenders it was duck number 397 whose beak crossed the finish first to claim $7,000 for proud rubber ducky owner Barbara Waters, “I was very surprised and extremely grateful when we got the call. My husband and I had just sat down that morning to try and figure out how we could get our granddaughter to Washington D.C. with her 8th grade class. She wanted me to go with her, but we couldn’t work that out so we decided to pool our PFD checks together so we could send her, but that changed thanks to the Rubber Ducky race and now I’ll get to go with her and I’m really excited,” Waters told the Dispatch. Having purchased both a $20, with $6,000 to the winner, and a $5.00 ticket worth an additional $1,000, Waters won the total $7,000 cash prize.
In addition, with the help of 3 year old Alexi Pierren of Kenai, there were seven $20.00 tickets drawn for $100.00 each and those lucky participants being Larry Porter, Colleen Denbrock, Gwen Preston, Victor Oberts, John Anderson, Sandra Sterling and Michelle Glaves. Three $5.00 tickets were also drawn for $100.00 each and those winners were C. Falkenburg, Peninsula Enterprises and Sharen Sleater.
“Congratulations to all the winners but in reality everyone wins since all of the funds raised by the Lions through these and other activities go right back to our community. Lions Clubs also conduct programs such as eye care, scholarships, drug awareness programs and other health and benefit programs for children and elderly. So thank you to all who participated in the Rubber Ducky race and for those whose ducky didn’t hit the finish line first, better luck next year,” Immediately following the race all the ducks were scooped from the river by Lions Club volunteers headed up by Terry Linebarger, vice president of the Kenai Lions, who reported all ducks accounted for.
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