Thousands of little rubber ducks carry big hopes of derby donors today
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Former Dry Creek Elementary School Principal Mary Hebert, a past Duck Derby truck winner, staffs a table to sell Great Olympic Peninsula Duck Derby ducks in front of Country Aire Market in Port Angeles. -- Photo by Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News
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Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News
Leslie English attempts to lure duck buyers to a Duck Derby table at Swain's General Store in Port Angeles.

By Rob Ollikainen
Peninsula Daily News

PORT ANGELES — Mary Hebert rarely misses a Great Olympic Peninsula Duck Derby.

The longtime volunteer plans to be at Lincoln Park for the 24th annual rubber duck race at 1:30 p.m. today.

But she might consider staying home because the derby Hebert missed in 2002 turned out to be her luckiest.

“I started getting phone calls from people telling me I had won,” Hebert recalled.

“I thought: ‘Yeah, right.’”

But her friends weren’t joking.

Hebert, who was packing for a vacation 11 years ago, won a new Toyota Tacoma after the duck for which she held a ticket came in first in the race.

“That was a real thrill,” she said.

Thousands of rubber ducks will float to the finish line today to benefit the Olympic Medical Center Foundation, which organizes the race, and the Sequim Rotary Club’s charitable projects.

Forty-two prizes worth more than $25,000 will be up for grabs, and all rubber duck “adoptive parents” will have chances to win them.

The grand prize winner will have a choice between a 2013 Toyota Tacoma pickup truck or a Toyota Corolla provided by Wilder Toyota Inc.

Other prizes include $1,000 cash and gift certificates to local restaurants.

The main race gets under way at the Lincoln Park pond at 1:30 p.m. The ducks are pushed to the finish line by fire hoses held by Port Angeles Fire Department firefighters.

“It’s a fun event,” Hebert said.

“There’s always things to do.”

A Kids Pavilion will open at 1 p.m. KONP radio will make live announcements of the winners.

The Bub and Alice Olsen Very Important Duck (VID) Race will start at 1 p.m.

Ducks in the VID race are purchased by businesses and individuals, including those from outside the Peninsula who do business with local companies, and are emblazoned with their logos.

A catered VID party, for those who purchased VID packages, will be at 11:30 a.m. in the old Loomis Tavern building at the race site.

Also open at 11:30 a.m. will be the DeMolay of Port Angeles’ burgers and hot dogs tent.

Duck Derby tickets can be purchased at the event until 12:30 p.m.

Tickets cost $5 for one duck or $25 for a six-pack.

Duck tickets were sold by volunteers at various businesses, including the Peninsula Daily News, in the weeks leading up to the event.

By midday Saturday, more than 25,000 had been sold, said Bruce Skinner, executive director of the Olympic Medical Center Foundation.

He expected final sales to at least match the number sold last year, which was 28,085.

Hebert said she has sold Duck Derby tickets for well over a decade because she enjoys meeting new people and because it supports a good cause.

Her husband was treated for a heart attack at OMC before being airlifted to Seattle.

“The first initial response was here locally,” Hebert said.

“All the more reason for me to volunteer now.”

Hebert is now retired from the Port Angeles School District, where she served as Dry Creek principal and assistant superintendent.

She is involved in the OMC Foundation’s three biggest fundraisers: the Duck Derby, the Sonny Sixkiller Husky Celebrity Golf Classic and the Festival of Trees.

This year, she will chair the Festival of Trees.

Leslie English of Port Angeles also sells Duck Derby tickets to support the hospital foundation.

She started selling them in 2007 and was diagnosed with colon cancer later that year.

“The hospital, I believe, saved my life,” English said.

“That makes it even more worthwhile.”

English also likes meeting people while selling ducks at Swain’s General Store,

The former waitress said the trick is to explain that you’re winning the Duck Derby by supporting a good cause.

“Prizes are the icing on the cake,” English said.

The date of the annual derby was pushed from May to June this year to allow ticket sales over the Memorial Day weekend and the two weeks after, Skinner said.

Last year, the race was May 13.

Proceeds from the derby, which is presented by the Jamestown S’Klallam tribe, will benefit OMC’s obstetrics and new family services through the OMC Foundation and the Sequim Rotary Club’s charitable projects.

The slogan for this year’s race is “Buy a Duck and Help an Infant.”

The 2012 derby grossed more than $132,000, OMC Foundation Finance Director Madeleine Burns has said.

The derby has raised more than $2.1 million over the past 23 years for charities including the OMC Foundation, the Sequim Radiation Oncology Center, Forks Soroptimists, the Lions Club, Kiwanis, the Sequim unit of the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Olympic Peninsula and other Sequim Rotary projects.

For more information, phone the OMC Foundation at 360-417-7144 or visit its website at


Reporter Rob Ollikainen can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5072, or at

Managing Editor/News Leah Leach contributed to this report.

Last modified: June 08. 2013 6:18PM
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