Mount Airy residents are on alert ― there have been several cases of aquatic bird invasions sighted around town, perhaps causing a bit of a stir.
Clare Walters and a few others are the culprits, but it’s nothing to be alarmed about. For those on the lookout, if you see designer ducks in someone’s front lawn it’s merely a “Quack Attack,” an advertisement for an upcoming event sponsored by the Rotary Club of Mount Airy and the Mount Airy Volunteer Fire Company.
The town’s inaugural Duck Race is set for Sept. 27 at 2 p.m. at the fire company’s carnival grounds. More than 3,100 tickets have been sold for the race, Walters said, meeting their goal of reaching 3,000 by the day of the event.
The idea sprang from a neighboring rotary club’s attempt to do something similar near Washington, D.C., but Walters said a race down the Anacostia River wasn’t successful. Dick Wilcher, president of the Rotary Club of Mount Airy, purchased 10,000 rubber ducks from the other club, Walters said, along with a large inflatable duck that serves as a conversation piece.
“We use that because that really draws the people over to at least ask questions,” Walters said.
To help promote the event, Walters said a small group of community members ― herself and Wendy Study from the rotary club, along with Matthew Heard and Terry Baker from the fire company ― have been planting ducks in people’s yards. The ducks also come with a flyer, Walters said, letting the resident know the race is coming next month, should they wish to donate or enter for a chance to adopt their own duck (the rubber variety) for the competition.
If the resident makes a donation, Walters said, the ducks get relocated to a different yard.
“This is a fun fundraiser project, and a great advertisement for the Great Mount Airy Duck Race,” she said.
The race itself will feature rubber ducks being pushed down an obstacle course created by Walters and friends. Mount Airy fire company tankers will be present to unleash a water supply so the ducks have a little power behind them. Hay bales are being donated by Knill’s Farm Market in Mount Airy, Walters said, to be used as barriers.
Each duck will be numbered, and anyone who purchases raffle tickets from the rotary club gets a chance to have their duck finish in the top four for potential cash prizes.
Walters said people can buy one duck for $10, three for $20 or eight for $50. The race is set to feature several heats, and winners of those trials move onto the finals.
The race winner is slated to receive $1,000, with second place getting $500, third place $300 and fourth place $100. The race will feature more than 20 prizes that include random winners and fastest ducks, according to the town’s website.
As for the “Quack Attack” sightings, it’s something Walters said she’s enjoying as “just the duck lady” of the group.
One resident asked Walters if she could place a pair of dotted ducks in her yard after which Walters received a photo of the woman’s two Dalmatians lying in the grass in front of the speckled fowl. Another women paid for her own yard ornaments, and when Walters found out she was a breast cancer survivor she opted to adorn them with pink ribbons.
“She texted me [Aug. 24] and said I made her day, I made her week, I made her month,” Walters said. “It’s just, you meet the nicest people. It’s just fun.”
Wilcher said the Rotary Club of Mount Airy teamed with the fire company to put on the Duck Race because the fire company lost its annual fundraising events this year amid the coronavirus pandemic, while the town had to cancel some of its mainstays as well.
The Duck Race should allow for social distancing because it’s taking place outdoors, and Walters said the event is scheduled to be streamed on Mount Airy’s town website.