Most people have a dream destination, but what many don't know is that they can get there by duck. No quack: Buy a rubber ducky and win dinner for two anywhere in the world. That's the bottom line of the annual Ducky Wucky River Race, held by the Ayer Rotary Club.
The Ducky Wucky River Race is one of the highlights of the Apple Blossom Festival, which will be held on Saturday, May 10, on the Harvard Town Common. The Apple Blossom Festival features arts and crafts vendors, food booths and entertainment and runs from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The Ducky Wucky Race starts promptly at 4:30. Both events raise funds for the charitable causes supported by the Rotary Club, which services Ayer, Shirley, Harvard and Devens.
Here's how the race works: Thousands of "adopted" ducks paddle down the Nashua River from the starting line off of Still River Road in Harvard, with the winning quacker scoring its owner dinner for two anywhere in the world.
For more than 20 years, Kit Tucker of Roux Travel Agency in Leominster has helped winners plan their dream vacation. "It's almost like building a house when we plan a trip like this. We start from the bottom up," Tucker explained. "When someone wins, they usually call us the next day, and we make an appointment for them to come in. When they arrive, everyone in my office stands up to salute the Top Duck, and we welcome them with noisemakers and cheers." According to Tucker, once a Top Duck, always a Top Duck.
So where have winners chosen to travel in the past? "Paris, Rome, Australia, Hawaii, Africa, Bali..." Tucker said. "Once a 12-year-old girl won and guess where she wanted to go?" He laughs and answers, Disney World.
The idea for the Ducky Wucky River Race came from an impromptu meeting two decades ago in the Tap Room of the Bull Run. Norm Tucker, Kit's father, and other Rotarians, "were sitting around one night saying, 'Gee, how can we raise more money?'" Tucker said, "and they came up with the idea of dinner for two anywhere in the world. It really took off and the Rotary Club has been doing it ever since."
Money is raised by the Rotary through the sale of rubber ducks. Each rubber duck sells for $5 or a flock of ducks for $20. All proceeds benefit the charitable causes supported by the Ayer Rotary Club. Annually, the club donates about $10,000 to local and international causes.
The grand prize includes airfare, two nights hotel accommodations and dinner for two. In addition to the grand prize, there are dozens of runner up prizes including such items as sunset boat cruises, fly fishing lessons and gift certificates to local restaurants and merchants.
"We couldn't run the Festival or the Race without the help of our sponsors," said Club President Chip Guercio. "We're grateful to the businesses who step up to the plate and help us raise funds to benefit the community."
This year's sponsors include: Roux Travel Service, Gervais Ford, Nashoba Valley Medical Center, Ayer Moving & Storage, The Bull Run Restaurants, North Middlesex Savings Bank, Closets by Design and David B. Alexander CPAs.
For more information about the Apple Blossom Festival and the Ducky Wucky River Race, or to find out where to purchase a duck, visit: duckywucky.org. To learn more about the Ayer Harvard Shirley Rotary Club, visit ayerrotary.com.