Yesterday I went to Vasona Lake Park, where the annual Silicon Valley Duck Race and festival was being held. The race, organized by Jewish Family Services of Silicon Valley, is a charity race benefiting 16 local charities.
The festival consisted of carnival games, bounce-houses, face painting, sponsor booths, a Home Depot clinic for kids to tinker, a San Jose Earthquakes soccer clinic for kids (although no players were present), Pizza My Heart along with the usual food vendors, and of course the booth to sponsor your ducks.
For each $5 donation, you sponsor one duck and are given a number corresponding to the serial number on your duck in the race. The big prize was a million dollars, but in order to win, your duck must have been one of the 5 preselected ducks that had the chance of winning the prize, then it must finish the race in the million dollar position – odds of winning: 1 in 37.5 million if my math is correct. Needless to say, there was no million dollar winner. The other much less exciting prizes and the winners can be found here.
The race course was a 200-yard section of Los Gatos Creek, starting at the overpass on Vasona Park Road. The sides were lined with swimming pool noodles linked with rope to keep ducks from straying off course, and to funnel the ducks at the end of the race so they were more easily collected.
Before the big race, the 15,000 ducks participating were loaded from boxes into several sacks attached to the bridge above the creek.
One preliminary heat was run with only 2,000 ducks competing – a test run to make sure things flowed smoothly for the big race.
Devin Setoguchi from the Sharks and Miss Silicon Valley, Jenna Harvey were introduced as the official race starters. They walked to a little island in middle of the creek, waved, and attempted to get the hundreds of watchers to quack a little, then started the big countdown.
When the bags hit the water it was as if a little yellow duck bomb had gone off – a patch of yellow getting bigger and bigger.
Slowly, they made their way down the creek, got some space between them, and the race was on.
The race was over in a flash, with the winning duck dashing through the course in a mere 5 minutes. The slowest of the bunch took their sweet time and finished in perhaps 30 minutes, some needing the assistance of Miss Silicon Valley.
With the huge rivalry between the Sharks and the Anaheim Ducks, Setoguchi showed some hesitation in helping out a duck, but was able to put aside his hatred for this charity event. Here is he clearly resisting the urge to decapitate this duck with his teeth:
I was impressed with the maturity of those in attendance when it came to a hockey star being there, although it may as well just have been ignorance. No one ran out in the creek to hug him, not once did I hear “GUUUUUUUCH!” or “Devin! Have my babies!”. In fact, I stood next to a woman who was apparently good friends with his mother and he talked with her for a few minutes while helping the straggling ducks.
After the race, the festival continued for a while, and as I sat in the shade trying to cool off I saw Devin and Jenna walk through the crowd, no one taking any notice of Devin in street clothes and Jenna without her tiara. Thinking Devin was perhaps going to be signing some autographs or something, I followed him, but soon realized he was going to his car to leave and I probably looked like a stalker. After that, I walked around the festival a bit more, but quickly got tired of waiting around in the heat for them to announce the winners, and headed home to sit in front of my fan and watch the World Cup.
See more of my photos from this event here.
See a picture of me taken by the San Jose Mercury news here . I’m the blur in the bottom right corner of the first picture =)