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Fifteenth Consecutive Duck Derby + Family YMCA ‘s Healthy Kids Day Scheduled for April 30th

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January 30, 2022

By Robert Kimmel–

The combined events this coming spring will mark the 15th consecutive year in which the Rotary Club of the Tarrytowns partners with the Family YMCA to provide a fun-filled day at Patriot’s Park. There will be rides, entertainment, games and more on Saturday, April 30th.

Events will kick off at the park at 11:00 a.m. The first Duck Derby race down Andre Brook is set for 11:15 a.m., followed by successive heats whose winners will compete in the Grand Finale. All events will conclude at 3:00 p.m.

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“Adopted” ducks, as many as 2,000, have competed in past years. Each of the heat race winners will win a $100 prize. The winner of the Grand Finale will be awarded $1,500.

The Rotary Club will be offering adoptions through its website, http://www.tarrytownrotary.org/beginning in mid-February. Adopting a single duck costs $10, with a “Six Quack” running $50 and a “Tub-of Ducks” (13 in number) costing $100.

Funds raised by the Rotary and the YMCA, both non-profits, are directed back to the community in the form of grants, scholarships and other charitable endeavors. The events are important sources of funding for both groups, with the Rotary describing the Derby as its major annual funding resource.

“We are eager to run this community ‘friendraiser’ and look forward to seeing families put some play in their day,” said Lesa Dalton, Associate Executive Director of the Family YMCA, adding, “Due to COVID, Healthy Kids Day in 2021 was scaled back and held at the end of June, but this year we are planning to revert back to our usual festivities while continuing to follow CDC and DOH guidelines.”

Bracelets costing $10 will allow visitors to the park to enjoy the YMCA’s activities including all rides and games. The bracelets will be on sale at the Y’s registration table starting at 10:30 a.m. Tickets may be pre-purchased. To obtain additional information, an email to Susan Barak, at [email protected] will bring a response.

“The Y’s activities will include Y Rides, Y Arts and Crafts, a Dance Party, games, music and more,” Dalton affirmed. “We are recruiting food vendors, local organizations and businesses to participate once again this year.” Anyone interested in joining the fun should contact her at [email protected]

The Rotary Club’s partnership with the YMCA began in 2008. JoAnne Murray, one of the two Rotary members who organized the Duck Derby, stressed that “The Y continues to collaborate with us and together we have grown with their event to a much-loved community happening.”

As for the Rotary’s adopting the Duck Derby as an engaging and fund-raising event, Murray credited her Derby organizing associate and its co-chair, Mimi Godwin, currently Rotary Club President, for initially getting the Club to stage it. “Eighteen years ago, Mimi Godwin came up with the idea and would not let it go,” Murray recalled. “I could only imagine how much work would go into doing it.” However, Godwin’s perseverance won out. “By 2006 she had worn me down,” recounts Murray, “and I agreed to work with her as Co-Chair and make the event happen.”

Duck Derby Mascots Godwin (left) and Murray

Concerned about the Derby raising money for its charitable endeavors, the Rotary came up with a budget for the event. “That included sponsors to help offset the expenses and the first year would be a break even,” said Murray. “From there we could evaluate if the second year would make sense.”

Acknowledging that the Hudson River and nearby lakes were two large for the Derby races, Rotary members brainstormed at their weekly luncheons and devised a location. Murray attributed the final decision to Rotarian Jerry Barbelet, who with Deputy Fire Chief Joey McCarthy came up with the idea to hold it in Andre Brook, which flows through Patriots Park. Andre Brook flows through the park at the border of Tarrytown and Sleepy Hollow.

The key, recalls Murray, was figuring out how to control the race. Joey McCarthy had a “brilliant” idea, which was “to corral the water at the top of the stream by building a guillotine and using a firetruck to pump water into the stream to make the water flow,” she explained.

The concept opened the way for the first Duck Derby in April, 2008, and the Hope Hose and Conqueror fire houses have continued to operate the guillotine and improve it each year. So too have Murray and Godwin continued in their Duck Derby roles as costumed ducks, circulating through Patriots Park, offering good wishes to everyone they encounter.

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