Rotary Duck Race always a big hit at Whaling Days Festival

SILVERDALE — Around 1:30 p.m. on July 30, it might be a good idea to “duck” outside and enjoy the sights at Dyes Inlet.

Just waddle on down to the water and enjoy a quacking good time as you watch a swarm of rubber mallards approaching shore.

The 24th Silverdale Rotary Duck Race will be underway and the 18,000 rubber ducks will have taken to the water like, well, ducks.

“It’s a lot of fun. People love the whole idea of ducks,” Silverdale Rotarian Charles Kraining said. “We call the money ‘duck bucks.’ We get a little weird. I tell a duck joke every time I make an announcement.”

Kraining said the race starts off when they dump the ducks through a shoot off a boat provided by Brownsville Marina.

“Sometimes the race is a couple minutes long, sometimes we’re out there with leaf blowers,” Kraining said. “We’re kind of dependent on the tides, and the tide’s kind of going out this year, so I’m a little worried.”

Twenty-four years ago, the Rotarians started this as a fundraiser to help them fund their projects throughout the rest of the year. Kraining said it was originally called the Kitsap Duck Race, as Rotary was “hoping it would take over the whole county … Then, through a few years, it became apparent it was just Silverdale,” so they renamed it.

The way it works is, a person will pay a fee to “adopt” a duck from the Silverdale Rotary. That person will then be given a number, associated with one of the rubber ducks. If that particular duck reaches shore quickly enough, the adopter will then be given a prize.

“The first one across wins a brand new pickup,” Kraining said. “The second one across wins a cruise, and the third one gets a necklace. There’s 63 prizes worth over $50,000 this year.”

Well, actually, there’s potentially 64 prizes worth more than $1 million this year.

Kraining said six numbers were chosen ahead of time by Suquamish Clearwater Casino. If one of those six numbers wins first place, the adopter will not only win the new pickup truck from Advantage Nissan, but also $1 million in prize money.

This year, a total of 18,000 ducks will participate, provided each one is adopted, but Kraining said he thinks they’ll sell out before the ducks go swimming for shore.

“A couple years ago, we did sell out,” Kraining said. “The sales (this year) are ahead of what we did last year.”

He said most of the ducks will be adopted during the Whaling Days Festival July 28-30. Deadline for adopting, he said, is noon July 30, just before the ducks are released into the water.

Before that can happen, though, volunteers have a lot of work to do. Kraining said they will take off the labels of all 18,000 rubber ducks, relabel them and sort them into bins, which they will do on July 27 at Central Kitsap Middle School.

It’s a daunting task, but the volunteers have an easy time keeping their ducks in a row doing it. Kraining said it only takes a couple of hours.

“It’s pretty amazing,” he said. “We have a pretty good system. It gets done really quick.”

Each duck is adopted for $5, or you can get a “quack pack” of five ducks for $20, and every dollar raised goes back into the community.

Kraining said Silverdale Rotary works hard to get sponsors throughout the year for the event so they don’t have to use the money raised to pay for the race.

“I think people love to hear every dollar goes out into the community,” Kraining said.

The money raised goes toward various projects. They have a form online for people to fill out requesting “Duck Bucks” grants, awarded by a committee.

Other recent projects helped include the Haselwood Family YMCA Teen Center, Kitsap Hospice, Gateway Park and more. They also honor Sailor, Marine and Coast Guardsmen of the months, and students of the month, provide support for Morrow Manor in Poulsbo and Days for Girls, and other projects.

“There are lots of great organizations in Kitsap,” Kraining said. “We support as many as we can.”

So, on July 30, duck out of the Whaling Days Festival for a bit to watch yellow rubber ducks race for the shore. And don’t forget to adopt one.

Someone has to win, right?

— Michelle Beahm is online editor for Kitsap News Group. She can be reached at