Bear in fowl mood at Ducky Derby
August 12, 2008
ASPEN ” Maybe the bear cub wanted to swim with the ducks.
Maybe it wanted to win the Ducky Derby.
More likely, the bear was flushed from his resting place by the Ducky Derby rubberneckers on Saturday.
A crowd of Aspenites turned out for the 17th annual Rotary Club Ducky Derby, the rubber ducky race that is a major fundraiser for the organization.
The bear cub ” who has been frequenting the Roaring Fork River this summer, according to Pitkin County Sheriff’s Office information officer Marie Munday ” ran through the crowds between the Aspen Art Museum and the John Denver Sanctuary and swam across the river. It disappeared before Aspen community safety officers even arrived on scene.
Chip Munday, Marie’s husband, was walking toward the finish line from the sanctuary when he heard people yelling, “Look, there’s a bear!”
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The cub had a red tag in its ear, an indication that it has previously been captured by the wildlife officers.
Several tourists tried to get their children to stand near the bear for a picture ” despite his warnings that where there is a cub, there is a mother.
“It was a typical scene in town,” he said, with half the people concerned about the bear and the other half wanting to get a picture with the bear.
After “running in circles” in an attempt to escape the crowds, the bear headed upriver.
This isn’t the first time a bear has attended the Ducky Derby, according to Chip Munday. A few years ago, a large bear was in a cottonwood tree above No Problem Bridge just as the ducks were being dropped into the river.
The bear, he said, watched the ducks go by in confusion.
Jason Hodges, of Aspen, won the $10,000 grand prize after buying five ducks from Aspen Sister Cities. Molly Purnell, of Portland, Ore., won the $3,000 second prize after purchasing 20 ducks from Aspen Rotarian Mark Purnell. Don Riedel, of Hollywood, Calif., won the $1,000 third prize after buying four ducks from Aspen Rotarian Ralph Melville.
Jaime Ayala, of Carbondale, purchased the last-place duck.
Duck sales totaled $23,432 this year, slightly behind last year’s $25,100, event chairman Bill Small said. However, he expected that the event would substantially exceed last year’s $220,000 in revenue, predicting it might approach $250,000.
The Rotary Club this year raised prices and changed its pricing structure in an attempt to raise more money and encourage people to buy more ducks.
Last year, they noticed that half the people who bought ducks only bought one. So this year, they doubled the price of a single duck from $5 to $10. But three ducks were sold for $20 (about $6.66 each). Five ducks could be bought for $30 ($6 each) and 10 or more could be purchased for $5 each.
The club is still tallying revenue from other aspects of the event, such as food, a silent auction and children’s activities.
Small also noted that several of the youth groups that sell ducks had banner years this year. Fourteen groups sold ducks this year, keeping 90 percent of the profits from their sales.
Aspen Junior Hockey, for example, sold 3,223 ducks, raising its collected revenue from $12,000 to $19,000 between 2007 and 2008. Other duck-selling superstars were the Aspen Sister Cities, with 2,371 ducks, the Aspen Valley Ski Club, with 2,101 ducks, and the Aspen Skating Club, with 1,146 ducks.