Hundreds of rubber ducks hit the water in support of Dream Big Union Bridge

The Dream Big Union Bridge organization teamed up with local businesses to hold the second annual Duck Derby on Saturday, May 11, at the Little Pipe Creek Walking Trail in Union Bridge.

The inaugural Duck Derby was organized last year by Cheri Babington Thompson, co-founder of Dream Big Union Bridge. This year’s event saw an increase in the number of people attending and the number of ducks being sponsored.


A total of $2,780 was raised — Thompson said she never thought it would be as successful as it has been. When asked what kind of community feedback she received, she said, “They love it [Duck Derby], and think it is a real hoot!”

A total of 300 rubber ducks, “adopted” for the race by members of the community, were set afloat on the creek. While more than 75 spectators cheered them on, the ducks made their way down the creek to the finish line.

It was a tight race for the two front-runners and a close finish for the half-dozen who followed not far behind. The first five across the finish line were declared the winners.

Winning ducks (and their sponsors) each received an insulated lunch tote, donated by Carroll County Recycling Office. Each tote was filled with a duck-shaped coin bank donated by Charlene Johns and a variety of gift certificates to Carroll County businesses including E.W. Beck’s, Buttersburg Inn, Original Pizza, Esquire Liquors, Thunderhead Bowl, Flick’s Pub, and The Cutting Garden.

The five winners were duck #154 sponsored by the Laney family; duck #124, sponsored by Marty Hill of Woodhaven Homes; duck #161, sponsored by Giesela Woelper; duck #297, sponsored by Pipe Creek Quakers; and duck #188, sponsored by Lucy Staley.

Staley, a resident of Union Bridge and owner of Lucy’s Little Red Wagon, hadn’t heard about the event until she was setting up her produce wagon Saturday. She did sponsor five ducks but was so busy she couldn't watch the race and only found out later that one of her ducks was a winner.

She said “it was my first year finding out about it [the Duck Derby], but from the looks of it, [it is] a really cool and different idea. It was so fun to see Union Bridge so alive; it was a great day for our town!”

Sponsors of the event included Woodhaven Homes, Complex Manufacturing, Bouchat Enterprises, Carroll County Office of Tourism, Hair & Now, Jane Sewell, Linbeau’s Railway Pub, Barnes-Bollinger Insurance, Shaffer & Shaffer LLP, and Magstone. Coupons for the day of the event were donated by: Buttersburg Inn, Linbeau’s Railway Pub, and Original’s Pizza. Use of the large inflated duck was donated by Leslie’s Pools.

Brynnie Laney, 14, made and donated a duck-themed cake to raffle off. The winner of the cake raffle was Blakey Stambaugh.

Dream Big Union Bridge is a community group organized by Thompson and members of the Union Bridge community in an effort to connect neighbors and businesses, and to “celebrate, beautify, and improve” Union Bridge.

So far, the group has built and donated a display kiosk in the center of town for people to post upcoming events. They also purchased “Welcome to Union Bridge” banners and brackets, and donated them to the town. Thompson said, “We try to utilize the businesses in town, so they too can benefit.”

Dream Big Union Bridge is always looking for new volunteers to help with ongoing projects. “Anyone who is willing to volunteer, we have found that everyone brings a different talent to the table,” Thompson said. “All are welcome to volunteer, you can even just do things behind the scene.”

Of the groups’ success, Thompson said it is everything she’d envisioned. “We are definitely making a positive impression on the citizens of our town. We are bringing neighbors together in a positive way.”

Some of the successful ventures Dream Big has held in the past include the annual Easter Egg Hunt and the Holiday House Decorations contest. Dream Big also co-sponsored an event at Linbeau’s Railway Pub to raise funds for suicide awareness.


Look for future community events including the annual Community Cookout, bingo and the Ice Cream Social. Check out Dream Big Union Bridge on Facebook at

Dream Big Union Bridge thanks everyone who supported the Duck Derby event, with special thanks to the Union Bridge fire company for bringing a truck and hose to help send the ducks on their way.

Penny Larson, one of the many volunteers, said, “Union Bridge is a small, historic town, filled with warm-hearted people, and we dream big.”

“Bring us your dream and we will do everything possible to make your dreams come true,” Thompson said.

Gabrielle Schoeffield covers Taneytown, Union Bridge, New Windsor and surrounding areas. If you have upcoming events you’d like to see written about in her West Carroll column, send an email to