This race is everything it’s ‘quacked’ up to be

By LISA CAPOBIANCO
STAFF WRITER
This weekend, 5,000 rubber ducks will take over the Pequabuck River, competing to get the finish line.
On Sunday, the 11th annual Pequabuck River Duck Race will return to Forestville, where hundreds of people are expected to fill the streets. Spectators will watch the ducks race to be one of the first 36 ducks to cross the finish line, earning prizes for the ticket holder with the corresponding number. From a 42 inch TV to gift certificates to local restaurants to the $1,500 grand prize, the race offers a wide range of prizes.
The event has no fee for admission. A portion of Central Street will be closed in Forestville and vendors will line both sides of the street.
Sponsored by the Central Connecticut Chambers of Commerce and the Forestville Village Association, the event’s proceeds benefit beautification efforts in both Bristol and Forestville. Proceeds raised during the event in the past have supported projects like “Welcome to Bristol” signs, planting flowers, and new Christmas lights for town poles.
Rebecca White, marketing and communications coordinator for the chamber, said the duck race continues to become more popular each year as more people hear about the event and learn what it is all about.
“We continually sell out each year and pack in the crowds for a day of fun, which is a testament to how much this event means to the community,” said White. “Not only do you get a chance to win some great prizes, but you also get to have fun and support Bristol and Forestville at the same time, with race proceeds going towards beautification efforts in these areas.”
Cheryl Thibeault, who serves on the chamber’s Beautification Committee, said the event would not have become what is today without the support of local businesses who donate prizes.
“It has become a community [event],” said Thibeault. “There’s so many people who want to be a part of it.”
The way the race works is that approximately 5,000 rubber ducks will be dumped off a payloader into the Pequabuck River at 2 p.m. The ducks will float down the river to the finish line, located at the Central Street bridge. The first 36 ducks to cross the finish line win the corresponding prize for their “owner” with the matching raffle ticket number.
Clean Harbors, an environmental group, donates its services to collect the rubber ducks as they finish.
Winning numbers will be announced at the race and the chamber’s website, as well as the Pequabuck River’s Facebook page, will include the full list of winners. All prizes can be picked up starting the Monday after the race at the Bristol Chamber of Commerce. Winners will need their winning ticket stub and a photo ID.
Although the rubber ducks have floated down the river for 20 to 30 minutes in the past, the race has been shortened this year, said Thibeault. The new start location is on Broad Street near the pump station, across from Leether Automotive.
Thibeault said this means that the ducks will face fewer obstacles and will experience a more “dynamic” finish.
Thibeault, one of the main driving forces behind the event, said the idea to bring a duck race to Forestville began after seeing a similar event put on by the Thomaston Opera House. The beautification committee decided to bring the duck race to Forestville as a way to bring excitement to the community while supporting beautification efforts in Bristol.
“It was something