Rotarian Marty Martens's duck was the first to cross the finish line as the grand prize winner of seven nights at Vanderbilt Beach Resort in Naples, FL with $1,000 spending cash.
This year’s course had been rerouted behind The Smiling Cow due to the low water tables last year. All week, volunteers had set up nearly 300 floating “noodles” as barriers to guide the ducks past the main waterfall. What they didn’t expect is that nearly three inches of rain in the preceding days would alter the course.
“Last year, we didn’t have enough water and decided to shorten the course,” said West Bay Rotary president Peter Berke. “So, we set up our route on Thursday and then we got all of that rain, which raised the current of the waterfalls and knocked the noodle barrier over the falls. We had to improvise so we had a new course, straight over the falls this year,” he added, smiling. "It was a very fast course this year, very successful and we had great participation among the other Rotarians."
As always, a few ducks went rogue, coursing out into the harbor where a team of West Bay Rotary members and volunteers scooped them up with nets.
West Bay Rotary sent 3,500 ducks down the river with nearly 2,900 tickets sold. The sale of each ticket benefits a number of charities West Bay Rotary supports such as food pantries and The Hospitality House. For more pictures and updates on other winners, visit the West Bay Rotary’s Facebook page.
Photos by Kay Stephens