Aspen’s Ducky Derby to stay afloat |

Aspen’s Ducky Derby to stay afloat

Janet Urquhart
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO, Colorado
Thousands of rubber ducks cascade into the Roaring Fork River off of No Problem Bridge marking the start of the 20th annual Ducky Derby organized by the Rotary Club of Aspen. Funds raised from the event go towards education, health and human services, and community building projects. (Patrick Ghidossi/The Aspen Times)
Patrick Ghidossi |

ASPEN – Aspen’s Ducky Derby will run the river after all.

After making elaborate plans to run the annual race on dry land, organizers of the fundraiser have determined that the Roaring Fork River will hold sufficient water to float thousands of rubber ducks down the usual course Saturday.

Diversions from the headwaters of the Roaring Fork by the Twin Lakes Reservoir and Canal Co. have ceased for the time being in order to fulfill a call for water on the lower Colorado River. The so-called “Cameo Call” near Grand Junction is the second-most senior water right on the Colorado, sending water to irrigate farms and other land in western Colorado. Water is being left in the Roaring Fork, which joins the Colorado River in Glenwood Springs, to meet that call, boosting flows in the river through town.

In addition, the Salvation Ditch Co. has agreed to suspend its diversion from the river Saturday, and the city of Aspen, which has a small ditch diversion, will do the same. The Salvation Ditch pulls water from the river just east of town.

“All those things combined are allowing us to run the race in the river,” said an enthused Chris Berry, Aspen Rotary Club member and “head duck,” on Wednesday. “We’re excited.”

The Rotary Club, sponsor of the event, had planned a series of relay races Saturday, anticipating a dearth of water in the river. The alternate plan called for racing youngsters to carry ducks. Winners would deposit their ducks into a swimming pool, which was to be emptied into a chute to produce a winner.

Instead, a truckload of rubber ducks will be dumped into the river at No Problem Bridge, and the bobbing yellow competitors will float to the finish line, adjacent to Rio Grande Park, as usual.

“It comes under the heading of ‘Plan for the worst and hope for the best,'” Berry said.

Duck sales continue at the corner of Galena and Cooper in downtown Aspen; youths representing various groups also are selling ducks. The first duck to cross the finish line is worth a $10,000 grand prize.

Derby-day festivities start at 10 a.m. at the park, with the race scheduled to begin at 2 p.m. There will be food available from the Hickory House, and the Bo Hale Band will perform.

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