A flotilla of yella

5,000 plastic quackers travel Hitchcock Creek in inaugural benefit event

By Samantha Webster
PeeDeePost.com

* Photos by Kevin Spradlin – download more than 400 of ’em for free
* Video by MacKenzie Spradlin – the drop – the finish

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com A volunteer captures the first, winning duck to reach the finish line of the 0.26-mile course Sunday afternoon on Hitchcock Creek in Rockingham.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com
A volunteer captures the first, winning duck to reach the finish line of the 0.26-mile course Sunday afternoon on Hitchcock Creek in Rockingham.

ROCKINGHAM — The winning numbers: 614 and 2626.

Those are the numbers penned onto the bottom of the first three — of 5,000 — fostered ducks to reach the finish line of the 0.26-mile trip down Hitchcock Creek. Those ducks were fostered, respectively, by Hannah Roberts and Donna Johnson.

All 5,000 ducks were fostered by individuals and local businesses with the first duck winning $1,500, second place won $500 and third through 54 won a variety of prizes.

Proceeds from the event went towards the Sandhills Children’s Center and its effort to raise $15,000 — the facility’s burden in the Cole Foundation’s Challenge Grant, which promised the youth center $25,000 if it could raise $15,000. The entire $40,000 will go towards providing new playground equipment at the Rockingham campus at 108 Crow Run.

Other than Sunday’s Duck Derby, a Pigs-for-Kids BBQ plate sale on May 23 also was a part of the fundraising effort.

* * * 

Today, for the first time, 5,000 ducks were released into Hitchcock Creek in Rockingham for a race to the finish; only these ducks were small, bright yellow, and donning sunglasses instead of feathers. The ducks were a part of the Duck Derby, a fun family event put together by Sandhills Children’s Center to support children with disabilities and developmental delays.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com Trying to catch them all. A few got away.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com
Trying to catch them all. A few got away.

Community Relations Representative for the center, Asa Moran, said that the entire event had come together pretty quickly.

“We received word from the Cole Foundation around April,” he explained.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com LMO Paradise Rentals brought a water slide to Hitchcock Creek. It was a hot commodity.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com
LMO Paradise Rentals brought a water slide to Hitchcock Creek. It was a hot commodity.

The Cole Foundation had proposed a $40,000 grant, but a “challenge grant” in which the foundation offered $25,000 if the center raised $15,000. This was the center’s flagship event of the fundraising campaign, and center officials hope to continue to do this each year, said Teresa Copper, director of events and community relations at Sandhills Children’s Center. She spent much of the morning spreading word about the event to the patrons of the creek that had just come to enjoy the scenery. The interest in the event seemed promising, as they sold out of ducks three days prior to the event, and approximately a hundred people, young and old, were in attendance this Sunday afternoon.

Festivities began at 1:30 p.m. with activities for kids in the form of water slides and bounce houses supplied by LMO Paradise Rentals, as well as free temporary tattoos, stickers and a very appropriate duck pond game with prizes. Other vendors included Discovery Place KIDS, and Sandhills Children’s Center were also selling the cookbooks, T-shirts and Chill Skinz, with proceeds going to the center. Food and drinks were available from Rocking Pig Barbecue, Sunset Slush and Coldstone Creamery, so attendees were able to keep cool in the heat.

The big drop happened at 2:30 p.m., and people lined the shaded Greenway along Hitchcock Creek, watching the little rubber ducks float steadily along, until about halfway down the 0.27-mile stretch when the current picked up and the lead duck became stuck along the bank.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com The bridge over Hitchcock Creek - standing room only.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com
The bridge over Hitchcock Creek – standing room only.

A new leader was on its way to the finish line. Of course, these were much more than just ducks. Each duck was numbered, and the top 54 to reach the finish would be awarded prizes. Gift cards were made available to winners from local businesses such as Rick and Al’s, Hudson Bros, Henry’s, Pat’s Kitchen, and more, but the top winners were offered much more. First place duck “foster parent” would receive $1,500, and second place duck “foster parent” would take away $500.

There was also the possibility of a Million Dollar Duck, which could be one of two numbers picked ahead of time by SCA Promotions. If either number made it to the finish line, the “foster parent” of that duck and Sandhills Children’s Center would split evenly the prize of one million dollars. Other prizes ranged from rounds of golf, to Edible Arrangements, to kayak rentals, to Walmart gift cards.

At approximately 2:43pm, the first duck made it to the finish, quickly followed by a horde of fellow yellow friends. representatives from Sandhills Children’s Center were there to catch the ducks as they floated in, but unfortunately some managed to escape their grasp and kept right on floating by. After the numbers had been pulled, kids and other volunteers jumped in to assist in collecting any rogue ducks, and the few stragglers that were still making their way along.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com Plenty of spectators for Sunday's inaugural Duck Derby.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com
Plenty of spectators for Sunday’s inaugural Duck Derby.

Unfortunately, there was no Million Dollar Duck, but first place went to Hannah Roberts, while second place went to Donna Johnson, neither of whom were available for comment. While the prizes were nice, some present focused instead on the event’s primary purpose — to raise awareness and raise funds for Sandhills Children’s Center.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com The drop.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com
The drop.

The center, some said, is a place that has done wonders for developmentally challenged children since 1970.

“I have nothing but good things to say about them,” said Hamlet resident Nikki Wells, whose son attended the center from ages 3 to 5. “They did so much and even helped with kindergarten placement.”

Despite the great turnout and the fun that was had by everyone in attendance, the great duck drop almost didn’t happen. Moran had to stop the duck truck en route to Wilmington, where they were headed, so that they could have the 5,000 ducks in time for the race. Making a road trip to Charlotte to pick up the ducks, Moran saved the day by paying for their release and ushering them home to Hitchcock Creek just in time for the fun.

 

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