Even the many, whose sponsored ducks didn't win in the various heats of the rubber duck races, were still inclined to call Saturday's third annual double-billed "Duck Derby/Healthy Kids Day" a perfect day in the park.
Sleepy Hollow Mayor Ken Wray, who figured his unlucky duck was among those stuck in the eddy of Andre Brook running through Patriots Park, still beamed under his straw hat.
"This is a spectacular day," he said. "It's just really nice to be outside; it's springtime; and you see so many kids clearly enjoying themselves."
The health and happiness of children was certainly the focus. Kids bounced on trampolines, danced, sang, hurled themselves down giant inflatable slides, and navigated the foam blocks and balls inside the "Fun Bus."
"So far it's great," said Christie Mainland, of Purchase, mother of two kids in duck hats who were exiting the Fun Bus by way of its back-door slide. "We have young children around three-years-old and there's not always stuff for them to do at these events. There's plenty to do today."
Tote bags from the Tarrytown Volunteer Ambulance Corps filled up fast with little freebies and pamphlets. Dozens of booths circling the paved walkways promoted area businesses and non-profits from pediatric dentists to the Open Door health clinic.
The local Girl Scouts planted collard greens, squash, and cilantro seeds in small biodegradable pots, destined for the new community garden just approved for 100 College Street. The women of the Junior League offered baked goods samples from the kid-centric cookbook they were peddling. "It's wonderful here. So much vitality," said Chapter President Cathy Hansen, as she handed out portions of carrot muffins in little cups.
Even food vendors took a healthy turn, with such fare as organic local meat on whole wheat buns, pickles on sticks, and curry chicken wraps.
The busiest folks of the day – second only to the children – were the many volunteers from the Rotary and the YMCA scrambling to make the day a success. Rotarians continued to put rubber ducks up for "adoption" at $10 a pop until the last heat, bringing the total to a record 1,300-plus ducks, the proceeds of which go back into the community.
The YMCA's Marketing Director Barbara Turk said, "We bring an audience, the Derby brings an audience and together we get the whole community out."
Every half hour, Chairman of the Hudson Independent's Editorial Board, Bob Kimmel, would turn on his mike and fire up the crowd for the next heat, running along with the most eager kids to give the blow-by-blow of the rubber ducks' progress down the short span of brook. Firefighters helped at both ends, bolstering the usually meager current with their hose water, and netting the finalists at the end. In between, volunteers used rakes to scoot along any ducks getting stuck along the way.
"I love watching the kids watching the ducks coming down the river, cheering like crazy, even though all the ducks are identical," said Wray.
Identical, except for those ever-important identifying numbers underneath. This year's Derby was dedicated to Jim Reiche, an active Rotarian who passed away earlier this month. On this day, he was particularly praised for having brought home 1,200 rubber ducks to number one by one.
Mimi Godwin and JoAnne Murray, Rotarian event organizers, enjoyed the annual honor of donning duck suits, dumping the bins of rubber ducks over the footbridge into the river, marching back the winners, and hugging and high-fiving kids en route. After sweating it out last year in extreme heat, Godwin said, "It's much better this year."
Claire Sherry, age 5, covered in face paint, a duck bill, duck hat and stickers, was an unofficial winner of the first heat as her godmother had shared her prize lunch for two.
"The good news was…I won," she gushed. "I rode all the rides. I got a Frisbee. I got my face painted. I danced."
Perhaps the only thing missing for many kids: a nap.
The First and Second Place (lunch for two) Winners of each heat were as follows:
I. 1. #804 – Katherine Davidoff; 2. #80 7 – Uta Atzrodf
II. 1. #1117 – Sophia Norwood; 2. #990 – Paul Lewis
III. 1. #584 – David Holtz; 2. #268 – Rosemarie Salvo
IV. 1. #1070 – Rachel Echt; 2. #110 – Linda Petrovich
V. 1. #313 – Walter Schulman; 2. #1197 – Joe Mahood
*GRAND FINALIST ($1,000) winner: Katherine Davidoff*