Tampa, FL

A 10,000 Rubber Duck Race Down Florida's Hillsborough River Next Month Could Make You $5000 Richer

Uncovering Florida

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If someone told me I could possibly pay my rent with a little left over for my savings account just by winning a rubber duck race? I'll be honest and say that I probably wouldn't believe them without some cold, hard proof. However, that proof came in the for of an official website, non-profit roots, and video footage from the non profit's previous free events in Tampa. It just so turns out that this duck race not only could win you some serious moolah, but also goes to support a good cause — and you don't even have to be present to win!

An annual tradition presented by a Bay Area Non-Profit known as Kiwanis Club of Tampa, The 2023 Incredible Duck Race will return to Curtis Hixon Park, offering another year full of cash prizes, gift cards, and more to would-be lucky ducks.

On Saturday, April 8 at approximately 12 noon, 10,000 rubber ducks will be released into the Hillsborough River, racing against their quack-y cousins in hopes of being crowned the luckiest duck. A $5000 grand prize will be awarded for the first duck to cross the course finish line.

$1000 for second, and $500 for third place are also on the line, as well as a smorgasbord of gift cards, tickets and other prizes for 4th through 10th place that have yet to be announced. According to Duck Race organizers, the extra prizes are set to be announced on the official Duck Race Tampa website the closer we get to the event.

In addition to this cash-prize duck race, a free day of family fun will be scattered around Curtis Hixon Park's waterfront, including games, food, and other entertainment, between the hours of 10 am and 1 pm.

So that begs the question, how do you get yourself a duck in this race? You have to adopt yourself a rubber duck! Anyone aged 18 and up can enter by adopting a duck, no matter where they live.

There are a few different methods for making your rubber ducky adoption official. You can adopt by either completing their online adoption form, submitting a mail-in entry, making donations at a Duck Race Booth within Curtis Hixon Park the day of the race, or by being a sponsoring business.

A single lucky duck is $5, but if you're looking to increase your odds of winning, you can submit a larger donation for extra entries. A Quack Pack of 5 ducks is $20, while a Quacker's Dozen gets you a whopping 12 ducks for $50 into the race. Or you can go big with the whole Flock for the best possible winning chance, an entry total of 25 ducks for a generous $100 donation.

While the entire nature of the event is to raise money for local charities, one free duck per-household can be requested by submitting a written entry to the Kiwanis Club of Tampa at 3616 West Cypress Street, Tampa, FL 33607. Your received written request will be considered "adoption papers," securing your single spot in the race.

Adoptions (entries) will be accepted until 5 pm Eastern Standard Time on Wednesday, March 29.

As of publication, the 10,000 duck adoption goal is about 22% complete. 2,156 have been adopted thus far, raising $9,205 towards Kiwanis Club's children's programs that go to assist, enrich, and encourage local families in need.

So that got us wondering, what happens if the 10,000 ducks aren't adopted? A minimum of 10,000 will be entered into the race regardless of the amount that are adopted, with some being assigned dummy-numbers.

If one of the dummy-ducks happens to cross the finish line? No worries there, only the adopted ones will receive the prizes — with the first adopt-a-duck to win securing the coveted $5000 grand prize. While 10,000 ducks is the minimum, more could find their way into the race if the adoption goal ends up getting smashed.

How does the race even work; how do they determine who gets what duck, ultimately deciding the race's winner?

Once you've secured your ducks through one of the available entry methods, your name and the full-range of entries is then thrown into a database known as the E-Quack. The E-Quack will shuffle all the numbers up, creating tag numbers for each yellow rubber friend. It will then automatically assign the randomized 14-digit tags to entrants. For example, if you've adopted 5 duckies, your name will get 5 uniquely assigned tag numbers.

These numbers stay in the E-Quack data-base and are never given out. While you won't know your tag numbers unless you win, the form you fill out will ask for contact information; Duck Race organizers will contact you by one of the methods you provide if your lucky duck happens to win so you can claim your prize!

Those concerned about the environmental impacts of releasing so many rubber ducks into the Hillsborough River will be happy to know that The Incredible Duck Race partners with a professional environmental company that deploys containment booms to keep the ducks on course. This helps to ensure easy removal once the race is completed.

Once they've removed ducks from the river, several boats boarded with volunteers will begin to count them to make sure all are collected and accounted for. Those that aren't get hunted for to make sure that all ducks are removed as the event comes to a close.

The 2023 Incredible Duck Race is presented by the Kiwanis Club of Tampa, a local non-profit that's been serving children and families of Hillsborough County for approximately 60 years, providing charitable contributions to more than 20 community programs and charitable organizations across Tampa Bay.

Their efforts average approximately $120,000 in charitable contribution each year. Since their inception in the early 1960's, The Kiwanis Club of Tampa has provided over $2 million to charities in Tampa and Hillsborough County communities.

Their contributions go to a variety of projects, including scholarship awards, community children's Christmas parties, residential construction of accessibility ramps for people in need, community grants, elderly support, and much more.

To learn more about The 2023 Incredible Duck Race or to adopt a duck for the race, check out their website here. To learn more about Kiwanis Club of Tampa, click here instead.

Article by Rachael Volpe

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