Recently recognized as being one of the best cities in the world to be in summer, Chicago truly transforms once the warmer months arrive. Summer activities and events of all kinds emerge offering endless things to do under the Chicago sun.
While some of these, like relaxing on the waterfront or kicking back on a patio, can be done throughout summer, there are also many unique one-day-only annual events that should be given precedence in the calendar. Along with the Chicago Air & Water Show which takes place in late August, Chicago’s Ducky Derby is one of these.
What is the Chicago Ducky Derby?
Every summer, tens of thousands of yellow ducks splash into the Chicago River in a lip-biting race to the finish line to raise money for Special Olympics.
Chicagoans flock to the downtown area and line up on bridges and along the riverwalk to watch the spectacle with many adopting a duck or five in the hope of winning big and supporting the Special Olympics in the process.
Each year the event raises upwards of $300,000 for over 20,000 athletes and more than 10,000 young athletes. In 2022, over 75,000 ducks were adopted and the highest amount of money raised in the tradition’s 17 years.
When and where does the Chicago Ducky Derby take place?
This year the Chicago Ducky Derby will take place on Thursday, August 10. The ducks will plunge into the river and begin their race at 1 pm from the Columbus Drive Bridge.
There will once again be a family festival at 401 N Michigan Ave from 10 am until 12:30 pm featuring free activities and live music from The Boy Band Night before the Splashdown at Columbus Bridge commences at 1 pm.
The race duration depends on how quickly the rubber ducks move down the river. The event will be broadcasted live on FOX32 for those who can’t make it.
How can I get involved in the Chicago Ducky Derby?
The Ducky Derby is free to watch but costs a minimum of $5 to enter the race which can be done online up until approximately 12:30 pm on August 10.
Hopefuls can adopt a Lone Duck for $5 each or go big with a Quack Pack of six ducks for $25! Meanwhile, a Flock of Ducks (24 ducks) costs $100, and a Diamond Duck Pack of 240 costs $1,000.
At the time of writing around 75,000 ducks have been adopted meaning the event is still 25% off its target of 100,000 adopted ducks.
Ducks can be adopted at duckrace.com/Chicago/adopt.
What are the prizes, you ask? The grand prize winner will win a 2024 Chevy Traxx while the second prize is a cruise provided by Royal Caribbean, the third prize wins a Save the Duck Shopping Spree, and the fourth place earns a $2,000 cash prize. Winners are contacted directly after the race via phone.
Is the Chicago Ducky Derby bad for the river?
For anybody with environmental concerns, 100% of the ducks are collected by volunteers and staff at the end of the race and reused every year. They are thoroughly cleaned and the event is meticulously managed so that no ducks go for an unsupervised swim.
These are rubber ducks after all, not escape artists.
Want to plunge into the action? Adopt a duck here!
More information can be found at www.duckrace.com/Chicago.
[Featured image from Shutterstock]