After a nearly 15-year hiatus, the “Rubber Ducky Race” returned to Rainy River this past weekend.
Around noon on Saturday, close to 750 ducks were dumped into the river near the Sorting Gap Marina and floated along a 100-yard stretch, ending at a crescent shaped barrier that guided the rubber racers into a chute that acted as the finish line.
Jason Bragg won the first place prize of $1,000, while Grant Rogoza placed second taking home $500. Colette Bowles took third, landing herself $300, while Andrew Brewer got fourth ($200). Walter Woodland came in fifth, earning $100.
Shirley Dolph, Ben Morelli, Carla Leimenstoll, Bea Galbraith, Denise Bliss, Tammy Ryll, Raeann Wood, Ria Cuthberston, Robin Wright, and George Elliott each got $50, while George Adair's duck came in last, netting him $25.
After expenses, the event raised close to $5,000 that will be split between the Fun in the Sun (FITS) committee and Fort Frances Lions Club.
The funds that were raised will go towards offsetting the costs of the FITS committee's annual Canada Day celebrations at the Point and the Fort Frances Lions Club is looking to purchase new equipment for Lions Park.
FITS committee member Cynthia Donald said the event went was a great success, although the committee is not yet sure of if it will run again next year.
Because the FITS committee consists of five members and has no charitable number, partnering with the Fort Frances Lions Club enabled them to get a lottery license and add some manpower to put on the event.
While the nearly $2,500 that the FITS committee raised through the event will help in hosting their Canada Day activities, a majority of their overall funding actually comes from the Moffat Family Fund.
“The Rubber Ducky Race was our primary [fundraiser] this year," Donald noted. "We still have a few donations coming in [but] we're keeping our fingers crossed for the Moffat fund amount.”
Last year, FITS received $10,000 with $3,000 of it earmarked for the annual Canada Day fireworks display.
This year, Donald is hoping to receive a little bit more money to make the celebrations that much better and even more affordable for families to participate in.
“Fifteen thousand dollars would be great because the inflatables take up a big amount of our budget and insurance,” she explained.
“If we can cover that, and a few other things, that's great. And the bouncy castle—it sort of just gives a bit more of a festive look,” Donald noted.
She said the FITS committee would love to have a midway at the Canada Day celebrations but it's not possible due to Fort Frances' remote location and the timing of July 1.
For the first two years FITS hosted Canada Day events, Donald said she called about 15 places but had no luck in getting a midway.
In terms of events for Canada Day, it's a mix of new and old, with many of the favourites from last year running again.
The activities include a colour run, pet fashion show, money pit, selfie scavenger hunt, junior volleyball tournament, bocce ball, log rolling, Riverside's raffle and a variety of contests.
The mini-king and queen will also be present during the Canada Day festivities as well as several vendors for those in search of a tasty snack.
Donald is encouraging Scott Street merchants to raise Canadian flags to show their support leading up to Canada Day. She said so far just Betty's, Northwoods, and the Fort Frances Tourist Information Centre have them displayed.
The FITS committee is grateful for all the support they received through the fundraiser.
“I just want to thank all the people that helped have the Rubber Ducky Race as successful as it was, it's hard to get it back up rolling again,” Donald noted.