By Arwyn Rice
Peninsula Daily News
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PORT ANGELES — One rubber duck earned a Sequim resident one real truck.
Rena Keith's fortunes followed the single duck toy she had purchased into the chute Sunday at the 25th Great Olympic Peninsula Duck Derby at Lincoln Park pond.
Keith will get her choice of one of several vehicles from Wilder Toyota, with an estimated value of about $18,000.
Keith was not at the duck race, and when Bruce Skinner, Olympic Medical Center Foundation executive director, called to inform her she had won the grand prize, she did not answer her phone.
But in an interview with the Peninsula Daily News on Sunday afternoon, Keith said she was elsewhere in Port Angeles during the derby and soon began getting phone calls from friends and from her son in Idaho after her duck won.
“I kept thinking it was a joke,” she said.
She said she purchased the ticket Thursday primarily as a donation to the causes the duck race supports and had no expectations.
“When I bought the ticket I said, 'Lets turn it over to see the prizes I won't win,'” Keith said.
Keith said she hadn't yet thought about which car she might choose.
Hundreds of people turned out at the park under sunny blue skies and temperatures in the mid-60s to watch the 25,946 ducks get dumped into the water.
“It's like a duck tsunami,” said Tom Wherle, 55, of Lake Crescent, as he watched the ducks tumble out of the dump truck and cross the pond in a giant mass of yellow.
The action of the Duck Derby race is made possible by a nudge courtesy of the Port Angeles Fire Department.
Firefighters wielded two fire hoses to push the ducks from their starting point toward the finish line on the other side of the pond, and when the powerful streams of water kicked several dozen ducks into the air to jump from the back of the flock to the front, the crowd cheered the bid for the lead from the “underducks.”
Other top prizes awarded were won by Joe Watkins of Sequim, who took the second prize of $1,000 donated by 7 Cedars Casino in Blyn; and Pam Busch of Sequim, who won the third prize of $500 in cash donated by the casino.
Kathy McNabb of Port Angeles took the fourth-place prize, a 2014 Washington State Fair package donated by the Olympic Medical Center Foundation.
It was the third year the derby was held at Lincoln Park instead of Nippon Paper Industries USA's canal.
The event also featured a children's activity tent with carnival games and duck-themed miniature golf.
The main race was preceded by the Bub and Alice Olsen Very Important Duck Race, which featured special ducks purchased for $250.
Winners were Big Sur of Carmel, Calif., $500 first place; Zenovic and Associates of Port Angeles, $250 second place; and Eagle Home Mortgage of Port Angeles, $100 third place.
More than $2 million has been raised through the Duck Derby in its 24-year history.
“In its 24 years, there has never been a repeat winner,” said Scooter Chapman, announcer for the event.
The funds are distributed to area charities, including the Olympic Medical Center Foundation, the Sequim Radiation Oncology Center, the Forks Soroptimists, the Lions Club, Kiwanis, the Sequim Boys & Girls Club and Sequim Rotary projects.
Reporter Arwyn Rice can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5070, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.