By Amanda Hatfield Anderson
BREVARD -- One of the most memorable Sesame Street sketches is when Ernie sings to his beloved yellow rubber duck, "Rubber ducky, you're the one," while splashing around in the bathtub.
While an upcoming event will take place along the Indian River, rather than a bathtub, thousands of yellow rubber ducks, complete with hip sunglasses, will provide participants with the opportunity to bring home exciting prizes, all while making a tremendous difference in the lives of children and youth in crisis.
On Sunday, April 13, Crosswinds Youth Services will host its 16th annual Great Brevard Duck Race at 1 p.m. during the Indian River Festival at Sand Point Park in Titusville.
A $5 donation will provide entrance for one duck in the race, and "Quack Packs" of six ducks are $25, while supplies last.
Co-hosting this year's event will be Tom Terry, chief meteorologist with WFTV Channel 9, and Mindy, from Lite Rock 99.3.
Crosswinds Youth Services is a nonprofit organization, which has been serving children and youth, in crisis, and their families for 40 years. The organization is committed to helping vulnerable young people overcome serious issues, such as homelessness, abuse and neglect, delinquency, running away, truancy and other challenges.
The Great Brevard Duck Race started when the Crosswinds Youth Services board and president were searching for a signature fundraiser.
Thousands of yellow rubber ducks are dropped into the Indian River, where they "race" toward the finish line, providing the opportunity to win cool prizes for their adopters and raising funds and awareness for Crosswinds Youth Services.
The uniqueness of the Great Brevard Duck Race, as well as the outstanding support from Crosswinds' sponsors, volunteers and the community has contributed the success of the event, as it goes into its 16th year.
Crosswinds Youth Services will also be celebrating a special milestone this year, as it revels in its 40th year of service to the community.
"In recognition on Crosswinds' 40th anniversary, our duck race T-shirts are yellow, and we have included, in the design, the recognition of our anniversary," said Misty Campbell, development director. "Also, we will have a 'duck'-orating contest."
Crosswinds' top duck sponsors will be given corporate ducks to decorate, which will then be judged by spectators during the race.
Ms. Campbell said the winner will receive a "Best 'Duck'-orated" trophy.
Those looking for their special rubber ducky have plenty of options, when it comes to "adopting" ducks.
For $5, a single duck may be adopted from Community Credit Union, Florida Bank of Commerce, Space Coast Credit Union, Fidelity Bank of Florida, Kennedy Space Center Federal Credit Union, Florida Business Bank, Sunrise Bank and at select BP, Shell and Chevron stations throughout the county.
Ducks may also be adopted when ordering pizza from Papa John's in Titusville, Cocoa or Merritt Island, as an adoption paper will be attached to pizza boxes.
People may even adopt ducks online, until race day, by visiting www.GreatBrevardDuckRace.com.
Duck "Quack Packs" may also be adopted.
"The 'Quack Packs' are $25, and you get five, plus one free duck, in the race, so you get six ducks entered in the race," Ms. Campbell explained. "If you purchase your ducks from any of the duck locations, you also receive a free souvenir duck in celebration of our 40th anniversary."
As the nearly 10,000 ducks race their way in the Indian River, some very lucky ducks, first to cross the finish line, may make their adopters extremely happy, as there are 11 great prizes up for grabs at this year's Great Brevard Duck race, including three new ones.
"The three new prizes are one-year family membership to any YMCA in Brevard; Bloomers Floral Design will be delivering flowers monthly for one year; and Universal Studios Florida and Islands of Adventure is providing a one-day, two-park daytime pass for four people," Ms. Campbell said.
Other prizes include two $500 shopping sprees at Dillard's in the Merritt Square Mall, a full day of fishing for two, as well as an evening of shark fishing, from Obsession Charters Deep Sea Fishing from Port Canaveral, a two-night stay at the International Palms Resort in Cocoa Beach and two aerial tours from Servant Air Ministries.
One lucky winner will walk away with a four-night cruise to the Bahamas for two guests in an ocean-view stateroom aboard the Disney Dream.
Participants do not have to be present to win.
"Winners are notified Monday if they are not present the day of the race," Ms. Campbell said. "We hold the prizes until they are claimed."
With tons of community fun, all while helping to support the Robert E. Lehton Children's Shelter, as well as other Crosswinds Youth Services programs, the Great Brevard Duck Race is sure to be a "quack-tacular" event.
"It's an amazing sight to see 10,000 rubber duckies being dropped into the Indian River, and as they begin to fall, it looks like yellow liquid," Ms. Campbell said. "Our goal is to reach the 10,000 mark of ducks being adopted. Hopefully, this year will be the year."
Crosswinds Youth Services will host the 16th annual Great Brevard Duck Race on Sunday, April 13 at Sand Point Park in Titusville.
For more information, call (321) 452-0800 or visit www.CrosswindsYouthServices.org.