Ducky Derby, Boogie’s Buddy Race and Bash latest cancellations due to COVID-19

The 27th annual Ducky Derby was held Saturday, Aug. 11, 2018, on the Roaring Fork River with a finish at Rio Grande Park. The derby is the principal fundraiser for the Rotary Club of Aspen and supports local youth groups and non-profits. (Photo by Austin Colbert/The Aspen Times).
Austin Colbert/The Aspen Times

Ducky Derby and the Boogie’s Buddy Race and Bash for the Buddies, all longtime mainstays of the Aspen summer season, are the latest events to be canceled due to the impacts of the coronavirus pandemic.

Shaun Hathaway, the outgoing president for the Rotary Club of Aspen, confirmed Wednesday that Ducky Derby has been canceled. The board made the decision last week, nixing the 29th annual event that is the club’s largest fundraiser.

“With the inability to have big crowds and to really put on an event that was going to be up to our standards, it just made the most sense to go ahead and postpone for a year,” Hathaway said. “Knowing you are looking at a venue that attracts thousands of people into a park, obviously trying to put everything into this thing and having it canceled last minute would be devastating for the club. It’s a smart business move to stay ahead of it and look at other avenues to help support the community.”

The Ducky Derby had been scheduled for Aug. 8, with the popular duck drop held at Herron Park and a finish near the Mill Street bridge along the Roaring Fork River. Roughly 20,000 rubber ducks were dumped into the river in 2019, with $15,000 awarded to the owner of the first duck across the line.

While the prize money was the Ducky Derby’s main draw, the rest of the money raised went to help fund college scholarships, international exchange students and numerous nonprofit organizations in the Roaring Fork Valley, including many of the area’s young athletes.

“It’s been a tough week this week,” Hathaway said, “making phone calls to the youth groups to let them know, because they certainly rely on the event for income and certainly the athletes rely on selling ducks to pay for some of their fees. That was the hard part this week.”

The Buddy Program is behind the annual Buddy Race on the Fourth of July, as well as the Bash for the Buddies, which had been scheduled for July 10 this year. It would have been the 34th annual Buddy Race, a popular 5-mile race held in Aspen on the summer’s biggest holiday, and the 21st annual Bash for the Buddies.

The two events combine to raise over one-third of the program’s annual operating budget each year.

“Because we are a health and human service organization, our job and our mission is more important than ever,” said Lindsay Lofaro, The Buddy Program’s executive director. “There is no sector of our community that hasn’t been impacted by this, so our fundraising efforts are more important than ever so we can be here and be strong for our kids and families.”

Lofaro is trying to find some silver living by making both events virtual this summer. Starting June 27, those who register can run their own race wherever they are and log their time online. There will be an online auction as well, part of a virtual weeklong celebration from July 4 to July 10.

“We were trying to find a way to keep that race somewhat normal, somewhat traditional, and the best we could do was kind of run from where you are and support The Buddy Program,” Lofaro said. “We know there are a lot of visitors in town every Fourth of July, and this is a tradition for them, as well. So we hope this is a little bit of a way they can feel they are still a part of the Aspen community from wherever they are.”

For more information and to register for the virtual race, visit