Milford duck race may be coming back

The once popular Milford Harbor Duck Race, which saw its last run in 2015, may be coming back.

The United Way and the Woodruff Family YMCA are in discussions with representatives of the now-closed St. Gabriel School to buy the 10,000 rubber ducks and related duck-racing paraphernalia, with the hope of re-starting the race as a fundraiser for their organizations.

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 with the following announcement on Facebook: “Due to the unexpected announcement that Saint Gabriel School will be closed June 30, there will be no 2016 Milford Harbor Duck Race this May.”

The race was a popular event, and according to United Way President Gary Johnson, it was a successful fundraiser, netting $50,000 its last year.

He said the YMCA and United Way have been negotiating the price of the equipment, which includes the ducks, several duck costumes, some duck merchandise, and nets to retrieve the ducks from the water.

Johnson is hopeful the two agencies will work out a deal to buy the equipment, and then get the race up and running next May. “We’re still trying to see if we have the staff volunteer wise to do such a large event,” Johnson said.

He said it will take at least 100 volunteers to run the race, from selling tickets to securing prizes and all the other steps that go into running a successful race.

He expects negotiations will wrap up in a month.

The race attracted hundreds of people to Milford Harbor to watch the  plastic ducks “race” over the waterfall for the eight-year run in Milford. People bought a duck or ducks for $5 a piece, and if their duck crossed the finish line in good time, the “owner” would win one of a long list of raffle prizes.

The race started in 2008 with 6,500 ducks, and that first year raised $30,000. Over the years, as the proceeds increased, organizers helped other local non-profits with donations, including the annual Children’s Trout Derby.