Got ducks?

Marie Hellman is ready to sell ducks for this year’s Youth Day Duck Derby. Photo by Debra DeAngelo

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The annual Duck Derby has become one of the most colorful Youth Day Traditions, and in order for that sea of yellow ducks to flow down Putah Creek, people need to purchase them.

This year’s Duck Derby effort is being spearheaded by tireless Winters volunteer Marie Heilman, stepping in for Kathy Cowan, who established not merely the biggest Youth Day fundraiser, but the only Youth Day Fundraiser.

Now it its sixth year, the event will include the race itself, free hot dogs and soft drinks, and new this year, a raffle. Heilman says all the children in attendance will get a free raffle ticket. The fun starts at 5:30 p.m. on Friday, April 27, behind the Community Center, with the race itself planned to begin at 6 p.m. Also happening the same time will be the Winters Chamber of Commerce’s “Youth Day Friday” event at nearby Rotary Park. The Chamber has discontinued its monthly Fourth Friday events and will now have their evenings of food, fun and free music quarterly on special occasions.

Heilman says everyone who loves Youth Day should show a little love for Winters’ biggest event of the year by purchasing a duck, or several.

“It’s really important that people participate,” says Heilman. “People need to know about local government and how the city works, and that’s what Youth Day is about. And, it’s a free, fun day for kids, and who doesn’t want to have fun?”

Ducks are available directly from Heilman. She will have a Duck Derby station in front of First Northern Bank every Friday, 3-6 p.m., now through April 20, or purchases can be arranged by contacting her, 219-9467 or She says ducks may still be available just before the event at 5:30 p.m. for as long as they last, but they are limited, so it’s best to buy them in advance.

A single duck is $10; a “Quack Pack” of six costs $50, and a “Flock” of 12 sells for $100. Heilman adds that sponsors for the event would still be greatly appreciated.

At the event itself, the ducks will be dumped into Putah Creek just west of the car bridge, and will flow downstream to a designated finish line. Onlookers are welcome to walk along the creek to cheer for their ducks, which will be scooped out and the winner announced back at the Community Center.

The first place duck will win $500, the second place duck will win $250, and the third place duck will win $150. The very last duck in the race is also good luck: The owner of that duck will win a Flock of 12 ducks for next year’s race.

So, hurry up and get quackin’! It’s almost Duck Derby day!




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