Right as the clock struck 2 p.m. on Fourth of July, members of the Colusa Lions Club dumped 1,500 yellow rubber duckies overboard from their boats and let them drift down the Sacramento River as part of the second annual Jim Davison Rubber Duckie Races.
This has been a Fourth of July tradition in Colusa for over 15 years, said event coordinator Jim Pingrey, but the event was renamed last year to honor the events co-founder, Jim Davison, who passed away in 2017.
“Jim and his wife Marilyn started the race years ago so I wanted to rename it to honor that after he passed,” Pingrey said.
The traditional duck cast commenced at the rivers straight away, just east of the boat launch, and ended as soon as the ducks reach the other side of the River Road Bridge.
“We have a count down and drop them in the river right at two,” Pingrey said. “It’s like our ball drop.”
One thousand dollars in cash prizes are given away to the winners each year; First place gets a whopping $500, the second place winner gets $300 and the third place winner receives $200 dollars.
Five boats drifted down the river with the duckies, ready and waiting to see which one of them would cross under the bridge first, just over half a mile downstream.
“The cool part about this event is coordinating the multiple boats that we need to follow all of the ducks,” said Pingrey.
A group of spectators watched from atop the River Road bridge as the yellow mass of plastic ducks made their way towards them, hoping their numbered duck was the leader. Two young girls on the bridge said they were eager to find out the winner because they had purchased ten tickets for this years race.
Pingrey said over 800 tickets were sold for this years Rubber Duckie Races.
Nearly 20 minutes later, anglers got their nets ready as the ducks crossed under the bridge. They fished out the winners – carefully marking which numbered ducks crossed the finish line first.
“Those are all seasoned veterans out there on the boats,” said Tom Reische, former event coordinator. “They have all been doing this for many years.”
Reische and the other spectators watched as the boats fish the hundreds of yellow ducks out of the river, a process that usually takes about an hour.
Since there are more ducks in the water than tickets sold, Pingrey said they fish out and the carefully mark which numbered ducks cross the finish line first and then go through their list to find the winners.
A portion of the proceeds made from the Rubber Duckie Race ticket sales are donated each year to Egling Middle School to fund the annual sixth grade trip to Shady Creek.
These middle schoolers help sell tickets prior to the race, selling about $1,300 this year.
Pingrey said Lions Club members base their donation each year on how many tickets the students are able to sell.
“We write a check to the middle school normally for $1,500 but the last year since the sales were so great we donated $2,000,” Pingrey said.
While Pingrey said the amount that will be donated had not been determined at the time of publication, he said at least $1,500 will be given to the students for their trip to Shady Creek next year.