GLADSTONE - Lake Michigan will see an influx of pink, yellow, and blue ducks this weekend as the Delta County Jaycees' Duck Races return to Gladstone's Van Cleve Park Saturday.
This year marks the 19th year for the Delta County Jaycees' largest annual fundraiser. Proceeds from the day-long event will be used by the Jaycees to support their work in the community such as the Thanksgiving Baskets program, which provides food to needy families over the holiday.
The day kicks off with the 5K Run, Walk, Waddle race. Cost to register for the race is $25 per individual or $15 per individual for families of three of more. Registration runs from 9 a.m. to 10:15 a.m. with the race following at 10:30 a.m.
Awards will be presented following the race for the best overall male and female runners and for participants who placed first and second in each age division. The age divisions are 14 and under, 15 to 19, 20 to 29, 30 to 39, 40 to 49, 50 to 60, and 60 and older.
The main attraction of the annual event is the Duck Race itself, which will begin at noon. Those wishing to get in on the action can purchase a ticket that corresponds to a plastic duck. Three-hundred ducks at a time will be released into a triangular track in the water with the ducks that reach the triangle's point first advancing to the final heat for prizes.
"I don't know how many people actually sit and actually watch the ducks race in the water. Sometimes we'll have a couple families sit in the bleachers and watch," said Kassandra Howard, Delta County Jaycees president elect and duck race event chair.
This year's first prize item is a 2014 Harley Davidson Iron 883 motorcycle, second prize is an outdoor package consisting of two mountain bikes and camping gear, and third prize is a handmade 14K gold and Tahitian pearl necklace with diamond accents. The remaining 22 prizes on the ticket are each valued at $100 or more.
Tickets are available prior to the event from any Delta County Jaycee or the day of the event at the "Duck Central" tent. Tickets are $5 each or six for $20, and ticket holders need not be present to win.
The last heat of the duck races will take place around 5:30 p.m. Following the final heat is the Unlucky Duck, a special race where the last ducks to finish take home prizes.
"Unlucky ducks people buy day of. They're $10 a piece, we sell 150, and those ducks are raced after ... our final (heat) from the regular (race)," said Howard.
Top prize for the Unlucky Duck race is $500. Other prizes come from community donations.
Starting at 12:30 guests of the event will be treated to complimentary picnic of brats, hot dogs, chips, and corn on the cob. Condiments and water will also be available.
At 1 p.m. the Boy Scouts will be hosting a variety of children's games at the park. Proceeds from the games will help support the Boy Scouts and their activities.
Also at 1 p.m. duck race visitors can enter a beanbag tournament for cash prizes. Tournament registration is $10 per two person team, and teams that want to register prior to Saturday can call Ashley at 399-5969 to reserve a spot on the bracket.
As in past years, the Duck Races will close with a live band. This year's musical entertainment is "Say What?" who will be performing rock and roll with a twist from 7 p.m. to 11 p.m. at the park.