Duck race is back: Popular city event returns June 9

The once popular Milford Harbor Duck Race, which saw its last run in 2015, will be back, scheduled for June 9.

The event will take place from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. downtown near the Memorial Bridge, which is near the Milford Public Library, with ducks going into the water at noon.

The United Way and the Woodruff Family YMCA negotiated last year with St. Gabriel School to buy the 10,000 rubber ducks and related duck-racing paraphernalia to re-start the race as a fund-raiser for their organizations.

The committee members who worked to bring back the race aren’t only community volunteers eager to help out two key non-profit organizations. They are also fans of this popular event.

United Way Board Chairman Dan Prestin brought his grandchildren to past years’ races and they all really enjoyed seeing 10,000 rubber ducks spill out of a payloader into the water, and then spill over the waterfall into the harbor.

“I think everybody enjoyed it,” Prestin said.

Josh Royce, executive director of the local YMCA, brought his children. “It’s not often you get to see that number of ducks falling over the waterfall,” he said.

Tom Lawlor, the race coordinator, said the event is surreal.

The Milford Harbor Duck Race started in 2008, organized by a group called Catholic Elementary Schools (CES) to raise money for the three Catholic schools then located in Milford: St. Gabriel School, St. Ann School and St. Mary School.

St. Ann School closed in 2010, and then St. Gabriel School closed in 2016, at which point the organizers canceled the race.

The race was a successful fund-raiser, netting $50,000 its final year. It attracted hundreds of people to Milford Harbor to watch the yellow ducks “race” over the waterfall for the eight-year run.

People bought a duck or ducks for $5 apiece, and if their duck crossed the finish line in good time, the “owner” would win one of a long list of raffle prizes.

This year’s event promises to be much the same. One of the biggest differences, which organizers hope actually makes it easier for people to get involved, is that duck sales are primarily online at It still costs $5 to adopt a duck — people don’t actually own them, but they get a certificate with the duck’s number. There will be several in-person duck sales, including sales the day of the event.

There are 80 prizes, worth more than $7,000, including a two-night trip to Newport, R.I., valued at $1,100, and a one-year family membership to the YMCA, valued at $1,032.

Organizers say they have a plethora of good prizes, but they think that in past years the prizes were actually secondary. The No. 1 draw is the race itself.

“There’s been an emotional response because people loved the event,” Lawlor said. “People have been saying thanks for bringing it back.”

Proceeds will be split 50/50 between the United Way and the YMCA. The United Way will use funds to help the 20 Milford non-profits it supports, like Good Shepherd Child Care, the senior center, and the Boys & Girls Club, plus emergency help for people facing natural disasters. The YMCA will use the funds to support programs and to provide scholarships for its after-school and other offerings to people who can’t afford them.

Food will be on hand on race day, including the Silver Sands Pizza truck and the Walnut Beach Creamery. The Elks Club will sell hot dogs and hamburgers. There also will be live music, a bounce house and face painting.

This year’s event also includes a special school challenge: Each elementary school that reaches a set goal will receive a Rita’s Ice voucher for every student.

Since this is the new group’s first year running the event, they are keen on getting the word out and making the race bigger and better every year.

Lawlor said there are three things he wants to be sure people know: The race is back and ducks can be adopted online at; be there June 9 for the race — although people don’t have to be there to win; and those who want to get involved and volunteer are more than welcome.

Volunteers may contact Erica Bento, marketing director at the United Way, 203-874-6791 or