Ready to run, Oakland boy, William Brown, waited for the horn signaling the start of the 17th annual Rotary Duck Race.
“I don’t think I’m going to beat them. I know I’m going to beat them,” he said.
Brown, 11, darted down the parking lot, up the grassy hill and made it to his brothers sitting down river, panting.
“Told you I’d beat them — and with a long time to spare,” he said.
At least 50 people came out and watched 8,126 yellow ducks float down the North Umpqua River at River Forks Park in Roseburg at 10:30 a.m. Saturday. Some were just there for morning entertainment on a sunny day and others were there to try their luck at winning the top prize, a 2014 forest green Toyota Corolla car.
Neuner, Davidson & Cooley in Roseburg had the first place duck, winning the certified public accountant’s company the car.
Onlookers watched as a crane dumped the ducks from a dumpster into the river.
Brown’s brother, Ben, said that’s his favorite part.
“They all just rain from the sky,” said Ben Brown, 13.
The brothers accompanied their other three siblings, mother and grandmother. None of them purchased a duck.
Grandmother Lori Jasna of Roseburg said they were there to show their support to the Rotary Club’s cause.
Roseburg’s Rotary Duck Race has raised $1.6 million for children at risk of abuse and neglect since the first event in 1996. All 10 prizes were donated to the organization.
Lilly Ledbetter of Myrtle Creek stood in anticipation before the ducks dropped.
“I have two tickets in my purse,” she said.
Ledbetter said she was interested in several of the prices, obviously including the car.
She said she’s never won, but “there’s always a chance, right?”
Though there was a chance, Ledbetter did not win a prize.
As the group of ducks came around the bend, Sandie Lucchesi of Roseburg pointed them out to her two grandchildren.
Lucchesi had purchased five ducks and her daughter, Jessica Ward, bought two.
Ward said she was hoping to win the car.
“Mine is on its last leg,” she said.
The duck sales goal this year of 10,500 was not reached, but Rotary Duck Race organizer Hugh Friel kept a positive attitude.
“Whatever we take out of the community is very generous,” he said.
Despite the low turnout, Friel said attendees were still having fun.
After the 10 winning ducks were drawn from the river and winners announced, children participated in an egg hunt for a chance to win a free bike.
The winners of the other nine prizes were not available by press time for today’s paper.
• Reporter Megan Campbell can be reached at 541-957-4221 or firstname.lastname@example.org.