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Rotary’s Duck Derby and YMCA’s Healthy Kids Day Return to Patriots Park

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June 5, 2023

By Robert Kimmel–

Patriots Park’s is expected to be packed with people this coming Sunday, June 11, drawn there by the combined Rotary Club of the Tarrytowns’ Duck Derby and the YMCA’s Healthy Kids Day.  The event, delayed by the weather from its usual April date, marks the 16th year the two organizations have joined to offer a variety of exciting activities, food and entertainment, and “something for everyone” as they have been described.

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While the Duck Derby races attract crowds along Andre’s Brook in which the Duckies compete to reach the finish line, the YMCA’s rides, music, vendor offers and many other goings-on also keep youngsters and adults engaged throughout the event’s nearly four-hours of activities.

It all begins officially at 11:00 a.m. and the initial Derby race is slated to take place within a half-hour later. Six Derby heats are anticipated for the hundreds of little rubber duckies entered in the competition. The adopter of each winning duck in a heat receives a $100 prize, and the six heat victors compete in a grand finale with the champion in that race providing its adopter with a $1,500 award.

Duckies are available for adoption via the Rotary Club of the Tarrytown’s website, www.tarrytownrotary.org through Wednesday and will also be available at the Rotary booth during the event. Credit cards are accepted.  The cost of acquiring one duck is $10, while a 6-quack will cost $50, and a Tub-O-Ducks, covering 13 competing ducks, is $100.  According to Rotarian JoAnne Murray, a major organizer of the event, more than 1,500 ducks have already been adopted. “There is lots of buzz in the community about the Derby, and people are looking forward to it,” she said.

Many of the community’s businesses, organizations and individuals contribute to support the Rotary’s Derby, with Phelps Hospital-Northwell Health and Kendal on Hudson serving as the Presenting Sponsors. Funds gained through the Derby all go back to the Community in the form of grants and scholarships.

Carnival games, art crafts, dancing, face painting are among the YMCA’s Healthy Kids Day activities, along with vendors who will offer giveaways and information. The YMCA has described its Healthy Kids Day as “a way to bring community organizations, local vendors and families together celebrating our children.”

With the purchase of a $10 bracelet, Children can participate in all of the games, rides and other activities presented by the YMCA. While the bracelets will be available for purchase at the Y’s ticket table at the event, waiting time can be saved by buying them on line at  https://www.ymcatarrytown.org/annual-healthy-kids-day. Children age 3 and up require a bracelet to participate in the Y’s activities.

The delayed timing of the combined affair, with June’s warmer weather replacing April’s iffy climate, will likely lessen the appearances of two characters who have traditionally paced through Patriot Park throughout each of the previous occasions. Costumed as large ducks, Rotarians Murray and Mimi Godwin have always spent most of the day outfitted in their very cozy garb.  The June temperature, possibly approaching 80 degrees, may limit their appearance to a single, short walk, if that.

It was Godwin who brought the Derby idea to the Rotary Club of the Tarrytowns, beginning several years before her persistence finally brought the idea to fruition in 2008, at which point the Rotary and the YMCA decided to collaborate for the combined event.

The use of Andre’s Brook as the site for the Derby became possible when the Tarrytown Fire Department developed the way to keep the Brook flowing fast enough to have the Derby within it. The Department has continued to handle the devices required for that current in every Derby since. It also has maintained booths serving food.

Two other Village branches have chipped in to help keep the Derby and Healthy Kids Day happening. The Recreation Department has regularly cleaned up both the park and stream each year before the events, and the Tarrytown Ambulance Corps maintains a location at the park should its services be required.

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