Nome celebratesLabor Day with Bathtub and Duck Races
The Rotary Club’s 28th Annual Duck Race was run under good conditions and the winning duck demonstrated that sometimes it’s better to make news than report it. The winning duck, number 2876, was co-owned by Nome Nugget reporter Sandra Medearis. With teammate James Barefoot she took home $1,500 top money. Second went to duck 28 and Marla Mayberry for $750 and third to Zachary Davies with duck 858. Third paid $500. The wild duck winner was Greg Davis for $250.
Duckmeister Charlie Lean explained before the start that the 3,000 ducks would be introduced to the Nome River right at Bering Air and hopefully would be released all in unison so all ducks would have a fair chance. When the appointed moment came the duck containers were emptied into the river and the ducks began to drift in the right direction, pushed along by a stiff west wind.
“They will drift down the river due to the wind and the current,” said the duckmeister. “I’m happy, encouraged by the weather and we have a rope where the old bridge used to cross the Snake River. That is the finish line. So the first three ducks across we’ll scoop out with these dip nets, note the number, text the number to Adam [Lust] who is keeping the books, and that will be first second and third place and typically the wild duck is the fourth duck but it can be a little bit later.”
According to Adam Lust, who was keeping the books, the official tally was 3,244 ducks sold. Even at the last moment duck enthusiasts were handing over cash for a chance to win. “There’s a potential of 3,500 ducks going in the water,” said Lust.
The duck race is the Rotary Club’s fundraiser for college scholarships. They currently have fourteen students in the scholarship program, all of them funded every year until they finish their studies. “We not only want to see kids into college, we want to see them all the way through,” said Lust.
Three teams made the high-speed run down Nome’s Front Street to the Post Office at noon Monday and the winners were once again Crowley Marine.
“We’re team Crowley but this year we’re running for my son who passed away,” said an out-of-breath Dean Hildreth, father of young Jens. Jens was a fan of the race and had participated in a past bathtub race. “Yep, he got to be in it once,” said his dad.
“So I told those guys ‘One last time and then I’m retired.’ And of course I retire a champion,” said Hildreth. “So if anybody wants to challenge me, let me know. Otherwise I’m retired.”
Second place went to the team from the Children's Home and a third was composed of a group of visitors from Oregon.