Ducks to take over downtown

People fill Maple Street in Naugatuck during the annual Duck Day & Race last year. –FILE PHOTO
People fill Maple Street in Naugatuck during the annual Duck Day & Race last year. –FILE PHOTO

NAUGATUCK — Little yellow creatures will once again flood downtown for a day and bring a hoard of fans to Maple Street.

No, the yellow “minions” from the popular Universal Pictures animated movies are not coming: we’re talking yellow rubber ducks, of course.

They may not have the stature of world renowned blockbuster characters, but here in Naugatuck, the ducks might just be as popular.

Over the past 10 years, tens of thousands of yellow rubber ducks have raced down the Naugatuck River in the first weekend of June, bringing joy to thousands of locals and more than $300,000 in total to about 150 nonprofit organizations throughout the event, which is organized by the Naugatuck Chamber of Commerce, an affiliate of the Waterbury Regional Chamber.

“It’s important to the community because it helps so many nonprofits in the region; some of them make more than $1,000,” said Courtney Ligi, special events director for the Chamber. “It helps local business owners who can be vendors and showcase what they have to offer. And it’s always tons of fun. The kids love it and want to go back every year.”

The rubber ducks are dumped from a pay loader into the Naugatuck River from the Whittemore Memorial Bridge on Maple Street. They each have a number on them that corresponds with a ticket that was sold for $5. The person who has tickets corresponding with the first ducks to cross the finish line win prizes. The largest prize is $5,000 cash.

Nonprofit organizations and their supporters sell tickets and receive half of what they sell.

This year, 65 local nonprofit organizations are participating in what is being called one of the largest duck race fundraisers in the state. It will be held from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., rain or shine, on Sunday in downtown Naugatuck on Maple Street.

The event features a corporate duck decoration contest, a dunk tank, local vendors, carnival rides, live music from the Rubber City Blues Band, a bounce house, a scavenger hunt that includes 10 $100 cash prizes, several food and drink vendors, circus performers, children’s games, and of course, the duck race at 2 p.m., among other events. Admission is free.

Other prizes for the duck race include a TCL 40-inch Roku Smart LED TV; a $300 Viso Bello Day Spa & Massage Therapy Center gift card; an Amazon Echo with wireless remote; a $379 gift certificate for a Movie Night In-Your-Own-Backyard Service for up to 2 hours, redeemable at OMG Entertainment; a one-year family membership for up to four people at the Naugatuck YMCA; a coupon booklet from O’Rourke & Birch Florist Inc. for one floral bouquet per month for 12 months; four tickets to a Broadway 2016-17 Series performance at the Palace Theater; a $150 gift certificate for a private chocolate experience party and tasting for up to 15 people at Fascia’s Chocolates, and a $100 gift card for the 66 Church pub and restaurant.

Raffle tickets can be purchased in Naugatuck at Dr. Henry K. Danziger, DDS, 297 Church St.; Liberty Bank at 333 Church St.; Nardelli’s Grinder Shoppes at 87 Maple St.; Naugatuck Chamber of Commerce at 270 Church St., and in Waterbury at the Waterbury Regional Chamber, 83 Bank St.