By Andreas Yilma, Staff Writer
NAUGATUCK — The Naugatuck Chamber of Commerce’s annual Duck Day is going virtual this year.
The annual festival, which is in its 15th year, is typically held in June and attracts thousands of people to downtown Naugatuck as well as dozens of vendors and entertainers. The event culminates with thousands of rubber ducks being dumped into the Naugatuck River for a duck race, which helps raise money for local nonprofit organizations.
The chamber initially postponed the event to September, but is now hosting a virtual Duck Day due to limitations on gatherings because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The large amount of people the event attracts annually would’ve presented a challenge to maintain social distance, said Lynn Ward, president of the Naugatuck Chamber and Waterbury Regional Chamber of Commerce.
“You can’t social distance a crowd of thousands with vendors,” Ward said. “It wouldn’t have been responsible of us to do that.”
“It’s a very fluid crowd,” she added.
Instead, the chamber is taking Duck Day online at duckday.com.
Nonprofits can register online to participate in the virtual duck race. The chamber will create a webpage for each nonprofit to help promote the race. From Aug. 1 through Aug. 30, people can visit duckday.com or the webpages set up for nonprofits to buy tickets for the race. Tickets are $5 each and half goes to the nonprofit people choose to support.
The chamber will release a Duck Day movie online Sept. 6 at 9 a.m. The video will show highlights of past Duck Days followed by the announcement of this year’s 10 duck race winners.
Ward said winners will be chosen by a random electronic drawing.
The grand prize this year is $5,000. Second and third place will also win cash prizes. The next seven winners will receive package prizes from local businesses.
Even though there won’t be a live Duck Day this year, Ward said the chamber wanted to continue to support local nonprofits.
“We wanted to be responsible and give an opportunity to nonprofit organizations to get money,” Ward said. “This is an important event for the chamber, as well.”