Duck Day celebrants will quack on

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NAUGATUCK — The 2.2-acre tract known as Parcel C, which is situated at the intersection of Maple and Water Streets, is, for the time being, chock full of heavy construction equipment and massive mounds of loose dirt — but that won’t stop local residents and businesses from celebrating the borough’s fifth annual Naugatuck Duck Day and Race on Sunday, June 6 from 12 – 4 p.m.

Event organizers have utilized the long-vacant, borough-owned property in years past, but will relocate some the festivities this time around, as an environmental cleanup crew has rendered it unsuitable for recreation.

The tract won the attention and interest of St. Mary’s Hospital late last year, in the only indication so far that the long-forestalled Renaissance Place project could break ground in 2010. The hospital plans to construct a state-of-the-art medical complex on Parcel C, but first, workers must clear toxic contaminants — remnants of a bygone rubber industry — from its soil. That work has been ongoing for almost two months.

Some of the Duck Day festivities, as a result, will be moved from Parcel C to the General DataComm parking lot at the end of Old Firehouse Road.

Last year, about 10,000 people flocked downtown to watch a payloader drop over 17,000 rubber ducks, which are sponsored for $5 apiece, into the river for a short race. This year, the Waterbury Regional Chamber, which sponsors the event, expects a number more on the order of 25,000. The race itself is slated to start at 2 p.m., but shopping, food and games will be available all afternoon.

Winners this year, like last year’s lucky victors, will receive such prizes as a bigscreen HDTV, box seats to a New York Yankees game, a Nintendo Wii and for first place, $5,000 cash. Entertainment will be provided by the Rubber City Blues Band, stilt walkers, mimes and the “Roaming Railroad” train.

Non-profit organizations that have volunteered to sell tickets will receive half of the proceeds at the chamber’s post-event celebration dinner. Over $175,000 has been donated over the past four years through ticket sales.