25th year of Corn Ducky Derby set for this Saturday

CORTLAND — The 25th year of the annual Corn Ducky Derby is happening, and it’s slated for this Saturday at 11 a.m. at Dry Creek next to Suggett Park

“It’s huge. The 25 years went by so fast,” said Doug Gilbert, chairman of the event for the past five years that has distributed over $355,000 to the Cortland area since 2004, the year they started keeping records.

This year, the derby is back in the creek at the park, as 1,000s of rubber ducks will flow down the water from Hamlin Street to the tail end of the park.

Last year, derby organizers were forced to hold the event in a pool instead of the creek due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Pandemic restrictions forced organizers to have last year’s event without the usual large crowd on hand and to live stream it on Facebook.

A similar approach is being taken this year. There will be a live stream again, and organizers are encouraging community members to watch the event on Facebook instead of in person “since COVID is still a health concern,” Gilbert said.

“We’re preparing for a crowd to show up, but not a big crowd,” he added. “A big crowd isn’t going to be possible this year.”

Gilbert said he is expecting around 4,700 rubber ducks in the event this year, which is about the same amount as last year (4,757).

The event’s record for rubber ducks sold was 6,478 in 2018. Gilbert is hopeful the organizers can sell close to the record in the future, but is certain the number this year “won’t even be close to 6,500.”

Despite setbacks with the pandemic, organizers are looking at what the event has done for youth organizations in the past quarter-of-a-century.

The organization has mainly provided community grants to the J.M. McDonald Sports Complex ($40,899), the Cortland County Family YMCA ($36,363), the YWCA of Cortland ($28,085) – along with a slew of city, school district, library and summer youth organizations spread across the county.

“The community and local organizations have really benefited from all of the money raised,” Gilbert said.

Tickets for Saturday’s Corn Ducky Derby will be sold for $5 at a variety of businesses in the general area until today, but Gilbert said rubber ducks will be on sale at the park prior to the start of the event.

For more information or questions, go to the Corn Ducky Derby Facebook page.

Kevin L. Smith