This article appeared in the September 2010 issue of Louisville Magazine. To subscribe, please visit loumag.com.
On Sept. 25, a crowd will gather at Waterfront Park to watch a barge dump thousands of yellow, sunglasses-wearing rubber ducks into the Ohio River for the seventh-annual Ken-Ducky Derby. It is the signature fund-raiser for Harbor House of Louisville, an organization that provides recreation and employment activities for adults with physical and developmental disabilities.
In the weeks leading up to the race, anyone can “adopt” a duck for $5 at area businesses such as Kroger, Republic Bank, Starbucks and Bearno’s Pizza. And, no, you don’t get to keep your duck. The flock spends the year flying in UPS planes to similar fund-raisers in cities all over the country. Celebrity-autographed ducks, including those bearing the signatures of jockey Calvin Borel and University of Kentucky basketball coach John Calipari, will be auctioned during a kick-off event at the Galt House. (The Harbor House would not release figures regarding money the Ken-Ducky Derby has raised.) Further incentive to adopt a duck: The one that “swims” across the finish line first wins its owner a new Honda Civic.
- Ducks in the Ken-Ducky Derby: 25,000
- Course length: 2000 yards
- Lost ducks during the race's history: 0
- Days the ducks spend in Louisville before traveling to the next fundraiser: 4
- Odds of a randomly selected adopted duck coming in third place and winning $1 million: 1 in 3,333
- Cost to adopt a flock of 30 ducks: $100
- Average finish time: 15 minutes
- Average fast finish time: 12 minutes
- Money a Rick Pitino-signed duck raised last year: $50