The crowd cheered.
The loudspeaker broadcast a quacking-good tune – “Disco, Disco Duck.”
And, with a quick dumping of about 2,000 rubber ducks into Lake Padgett, the flock of ducks floated off, with a push from a high-pressure fire hose squirted into the water.
Prizes went to donors whose ducks were among the first 68 to hit the finish line. But, the true winners were the community organizations that will receive donations from the Rotary Club of Wesley Chapel Noon.
More than 100 people came to the service club’s Duck Derby on May 21. Held for the first time this year, it is intended to become an annual event.
The all-day affair brought out families that shared shady spots on the lawn behind Hungry Harry’s Family Bar-B-Que, off Land O’ Lakes Boulevard.
They enjoyed live music and dined from a buffet of Hungry Harry’s barbecue, beans, chicken, and macaroni and cheese.
Ducks could be adopted at prices ranging from $5 for a single duck to $100 for a flock of 25.
Marcey Knight, 16, and Abri Woods, 17, worked at a drink table, taking tickets and handing out cool refreshments.
The Wiregrass Ranch High School students are members of Interact, a school-sponsored club that provides opportunities for community service.
Children bounced in the bouncy house, slid down an inflated slide or played carnival-like games for prizes.
Sales of the rubber ducks, barbecue and drinks went toward community projects, organizations or student scholarships.
“We support a variety of charities every year,” said Erin Meyer, club president.
Local and international projects and groups that receive the club’s donations include Pasco Education Foundation, Everyday Blessings, Farmworkers Self-Help, Habitat for Humanity, Sunrise Women’s Shelter and installation of water filters in third-world countries.
In all, 68 prizes were handed out including a $2,500 grand prize to Brian and Isabelle Dunleavy. Other prizes included a fishing trip for five with a charter boat captain, two nights at Saddlebrook Resort, a $250 certificate for automobile repairs from TWA Firestone, a wine basket, pet grooming, and bowling games from Royal Lanes.
Derby sponsors included Fun Services of Land O’ Lakes, Sam’s Club, Cash 4 Gold, The Laker/Lutz News, and Hungry Harry’s Family Bar-B-Que.
The Wesley Chapel Rotary Club Noon hosts fundraising events annually to aid local community organizations or projects. The duck derby is expected to become a yearly tradition.
“Things like this allow us to have fellowship as a club and also to give back to the community,” said Kelly Mothershead, past president of the club.
Events like the duck derby create a presence in the community, said Rebecca Smith, chairwoman of the club’s foundation.
“We kind of touch everybody, and the more the merrier,” Smith said.
The Webelos of Cub Scout Pack No. 149 in Wesley Chapel helped build the duck derby course. They practiced their skills in tying square knots to link together the colorful noodles that marked the course’s boundaries.
“It was fun,” said 6-year-old Andrew Holliday.
His family bought a few ducks the day of the race, and enjoyed a picnic lunch.
“We just wanted to see what it was like,” said Brian Holliday, Andrew’s father.
Brother Connor, 5, sat in a lawn chair, with a plate piled high with his favorite food – mac n’ cheese.
At the shoreline, children waded into the lake, splashing and tossing small pebbles into the water. Or, they wandered over to climb inside the cab of the fire truck parked nearby. Pasco County Fire Rescue provided the hose and water to get the duck derby moving along.
At the derby’s finish line, club members plucked the winning ducks from the water and popped them into plastic bags for identification. Each duck had a number printed on its belly.
The disco dance tune “Disco, Disco, Duck” kept the festivities bouncing along.
“Wasn’t that adorable?” said Smith, who is already ready to join in the fun next year.
Published May 25, 2016