The Annual Chicago Ducky Derby Comes Back in 2023 to Support the Special Olympics

This August, thousands of rubber ducks will one again float on the Chicago river, as the 18th Annual Chicago Ducky Derby takes place, in support of the Special Olympics.

Who’s ready to see tens of thousands of rubber ducks dropped off the Columbus Drive Bridge?! You won’t wanna miss the annual Chicago Ducky Derby fundraiser on August 10th this year!

There is fun to be had, while supporting a good cause and having the chance to win some pretty terrific prizes. 

The Chicago Ducky Derby is a signature fundraising event for Special Olympics Illinois. Each year, tens of thousands of rubber ducks splash down and race to the finish line. The winners of the race receive prizes, and the proceeds go to benefit the athletes of Special Olympics Illinois.

What are the prizes this year

Adopt your duck today for your chance to win one of this year’s prizes

In 2023, the grand prize is the all new 2024 Chevy Trax, part of the Chevy family of SUV’s, brought by Chicagoland & Northwest Indiana Chevy Dealers. Another lucky duck might win a cruise from Royal Caribbean International, or clothes from SAVE THE DUCK, an Italian vegan outerwear company that has recently entered the US market. The company was born from the idea of saving geese and providing a harmless and sustainable way to create down jackets. Their collection has expanded, but their commitment remains the same: to be 100% animal & cruelty free. They are offering a $500 shopping spree for six people, valued at $3,000. And, thanks to a friend of Special Olympics Illinois, the duck which comes in 4th will bring its owner $2,000 in cash. 

The tradition is a bellowed Chicago staple

Every summer, tens of thousands of yellow ducks splash into the Chicago River in a lip-biting race to the finish line to raise money for the Special Olympics. Thousands of Chicagoans flock to the downtown area to watch the spectacle with many adopting a duck or five in the hope of winning big and supporting the Special Olympics in the process.

The tradition is a bellowed Chicago staple, one of many the Covid-19 pandemic hindered.

In 2020 the Ducky Derby took place on the uncharted waters of the internet due to the pandemic, coming back in person in 2021, but with due diligence considering the health measures still in place at the time. Then, in 2022, everybody was invited back to gather around Columbus Drive Bridge and watch the ducks plunge into the river, cheering for theirs or just enjoying the show. 

Now, the Ducky Derby is coming back in just a few months, in August, the day after Madonna’s show, slated to take place on August 9 at the United Center! It is going to be one of the main events this summer, along with the award-winning ‘Sundays on State’ event series, which  will return for only two days this summer to bring more people (and their money) to the Loop, and the first ever NASCAR race to be coming to the streets of downtown Chicago on July 1-2, 2023. 

If you enjoy having fun while helping others, this is the event for you, one that you can enjoy with all the family.

A great cause to be supported while having lots of fun

Each year the event raises upwards of $300,000 for over 20,000 athletes and more than 10,000 young athletes. Over 75,000 ducks were adopted in 2022 with the highest amount of money raised in the tradition’s 17 years. At the time of writing this, 1,693 ducks have been adopted, equaling $7,399 raised. While this year’s Derby is still months away, Chicagoans, there is still time to adopt as many ducks as possible, so you show support for this great cause.

This year, you can adopt a Lone Duck for $5 each or go bigger. A Quack Pack of six ducks costs $25, while a Flock of Ducks (24 ducks) goes up to $100.00, the possibilities finishing in style with a Diamond Duck Pack of 240 costs $1,000.

August 10, 2023 is coming soon, so the event is being prepared as we speak. 

As we already said, this is a kid friendly event, so there will once again be a family festival at 401 N Michigan Ave from 10 am until 12:30 pm featuring free activities and live music from The Boy Band Night before the Splashdown at Columbus Bridge starts at 1 pm. If you never went to one before, you can check the internet for a video of the 2022 edition, to get a feel of what you could see. For those who can’t be there in person, but are invested in the race, the event will be broadcasted live on FOX32. The race duration is unknown, because it will depend on how quickly the rubber ducks float down the river. The winners are going to be contacted directly after the race via phone. 

If you are concerned about what happens to the ducks and whether the race impacts the environment, you needn’t worry. At the end of each race, the ducks are collected by volunteers and are being reused year after year.

If we have convinced you to be part of the race, you can adopt a duck here!

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