Volume 20 Issue 12 | August. 3 - 9, 2007

“The Million Dollar Duck Race”
Monday, August 6, 11 a.m. - 8:30 p.m.
South Street Seaport
Fulton and South Streets, Pier 17

Special Olympics of New York

One of these ducks may lay a golden egg.

All you need is a duck, and a little bit of luck

By Will McKinley

Somewhere, there is a duck worth one million dollars. And he’s just waiting for you to adopt him.

On Monday, August 6, the seventh annual “Million Dollar Duck Race” swims into the South Street Seaport, with live music, prizes and a chance for one lucky New Yorker to feather his or her nest with a cool million bucks. And all the proceeds from the event go to benefit the Special Olympics.

Intrigued? I sure was. So I called up Pelin Cebi, Associate Director of Development for Special Olympics of New York. What better source for the straight poop than a woman who calls herself “The Duck Lady?”

WILL McKINLEY: What is “The Million Dollar Duck Race?”

PELIN CEBI a k a THE DUCK LADY: We call it a fun fundraising event. It’s an all-day carnival at the Seaport. We’ll have a battle of the bands, with ten different bands performing. New York Lottery will be there with a spinning wheel where people can win prizes. And the duck race begins at 6 p.m.

How does the race work?

There will be 25,000 rubber duckies racing in the East River from the Brooklyn Bridge to the slip between Pier 16 and Pier 17. Each individual duck is tagged with a number that corresponds to its owner. And one of the ducks [randomly selected by the NYS Lottery] is the golden duck. If you adopt the golden duck, and it comes in first, you are the winner!

If I win the money do I have to split it with the duck?

No. Of course you can donate some of it!

How exactly do the ducks race each other?

The ducks are placed into the river and they start racing with the movement of the water until they reach the finish line.

So there are no motors allowed?

No motors.

How do you keep the ducks in the racetrack?

We have traps and booms and staff members on the water so no duck goes in another direction.

Have you ever had a duck try to escape?

Yes we have. Apparently he didn’t want to win.

And how do you determine the winner?

We have an auditor at the finish line. When the first duck comes in, the auditor picks up the duck, looks at the number and puts the duck in a bag. There are seven winners. In addition to the million dollars, there are other great prizes, like two tickets on American Airlines to anywhere in the United States.

If I win the trip, can I bring the duck?

Yes you can. The duck should be able to enjoy it too.

Since this is New York City, did you consider racing something other than ducks? Like maybe floating mobsters?

No. But you can be creative if you want. You can call your team “The Soprano Ducks.”

Will teams be there at the Seaport, cheering on their ducks?

Yes. We expect about 3,000 people to be cheering.

And how does the money that you raise get used?

All the proceeds from this event will go to finance our competitions. In New York State we have more than 43,000 athletes who compete in basketball, softball, volleyball, swimming, hockey, weightlifting and gymnastics. We never charge our athletes for anything.

If someone wants to adopt a duck to support this great charity — and maybe even win a million bucks — how can they do it?

You can adopt a duck at the event until 1 p.m., or through our website. You can also call the Duck Hotline at 212-490-1062 and adopt a duck from me. Each one is $5. There are also quack packs — 5 ducks for $25 — and a quacker’s dozen, 13 ducks for $50.

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