WESTPORT, Conn. The Great Duck Race raised about $30,000 for charity Saturday, and also made 10 local residents a good deal richer.
A few thousand ducks were dropped into the Saugatuck River from a truck, corralled into a roped area and maneuvered into the center of the river, where they were freed to swim to the finish line.
The event, sponsored by Westport Sunrise Rotary, will contribute some $30,000 to charity, from local causes such as Westport Department of Human Services to international ones such as Mosquito Control Indonesia.
Hundreds of spectators watched the race from the overlook at Parker Harding Plaza.
Christopher Jacques of Westport was late for the 1 p.m. race and actually missed his winning duck cross the finish line.
But they told us we won, so we stopped complaining, he said. Jacques duck came in second place, and he won a $1,000 Visa gift card.
The first-place winner of a $5,000 gift card, Tony Lautier of Westport, was not on hand to pick up his prize, but it will be kept safely for him.
Lauren Renzulli of Westport, a rising senior at Penn State who is working at Unilever in New Jersey this summer, was the fourth-place winner of a $500 gift card. Her mother picked up her prize.
The race went faster this year because of the breeze, said Barbara Wong of Westport.
In addition to the race, families enjoyed a variety of activities, from face-painting and a bouncing castle for children to live music from Uptown Jazz.
Whole Foods market gave out free cold drinks and snacks.
A variety of sponsors donated money and created duck designs that were displayed at a booth for spectators to vote on. Contributions also came from residents who paid $20 apiece to buy ducks that competed in the race.
There was a lot of effort on everyones part and it was a fun day for families, Wong said.
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