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Residents duck in for annual cancer fundraising event

August 21, 2006|by JENNIFER FITCH

GREENCASTLE, PA. - "Looks like the ducks won't be the only ones to get wet," master of ceremonies Russ Clever said moments before 300 people at the 17th annual Duck Derby Race in Antrim Township, Pa., were doused by showers Sunday.

The rain, however, cleared for most of the rubber ducks' journey in the Conococheague Creek. Their race yielded 40 prizes for the people who purchased them for $5 each in support of the American Cancer Society.

So just how many ducks took to the water?

"One hundred or maybe 1,000," according to Brianna Roland, 7, of Greencastle, Pa.

"Four hundred," said Tori Sidella, 6, of Smithsburg.

"Probably 1,000," agreed Greencastle sisters Sarah and Rebecca Dice. Sarah is 8 and Rebecca turns 11 on Wednesday.

"About 2,500," according to Jacob Stouffer, 7, of Chambersburg, Pa.

More like 4,000, said Savannah Burkholder, 10, of Hagerstown.

Luke Stouffer, 13, of Chambersburg, said there were "likely 4,500."

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"A lot" was the estimate from Sophie Kauffman, 3, of St. Thomas, Pa.

While the final count of sponsored ducks hasn't been made, it will be somewhere between 100 and "a lot" and likely in the neighborhood of 1,800, Derby Committee Co-Chairman Lon Bender said.

The event's goal is to raise $10,000 for the Franklin-Fulton unit of the American Cancer Society, and while the race might have fallen short of that, supplemental donations made afterward likely will push the total to the $10,000 mark, Bender said.

The first duck to cross the finish line belonged to Erich Felps of Gaithersburg, Md., and the duck belonging to Rylee Tosten, no address given, quickly followed. Each will be awarded $500 courtesy of Susquehanna Bank and Jerr-Dan Corp.

The last duck to finish earned $250 for Ryan Freshman of Greencastle. That prize is in memory of Ted Hazel.

Chris Ardinger, 15, shares his Mercersburg, Pa., home with the 4,000 ducks used each year for the derby. The ducks reside in blue bins in his basement, are individually tagged there and have been powerwashed while spread on his driveway.

"That got the neighbors' attention," he said.

This year, Chris, who co-chairs the event with Bender, sold 500 to 600 ducks at fairs, sidewalk days events and ox roasts. He started his work with the duck derby four years ago.

"I was actually dressed up in a duck costume. I got involved more when they came to my basement," he said.

Other youths integrated into the duck derby's operations come from Boy Scout Troop 99 of Greencastle, Bender said.

"Their job is really to release the ducks and gather them at the end," he said.

Several volunteers wrangled ducks floating away from the flock or caught in debris. Ones that proved especially troublesome will be "sent to pasture," Bender said.

"Some of them have been racing for 17 years," he said. "We have an adopt-a-duck program when we notice they're not floating too well."

Those ducks, rather than the ones leading the race, were seemingly noticed most by children.

"Some of them were on their sides," Sarah Dice said. "They went slowest, I think."

"I think some are sleeping," Brianna Roland said in frustration as the yellow heads bobbed in front of her.

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