Annual duck race takes on giant new twist

No holds barred in Big Daddy Duck Race


DUCK RACE GETS PERSONAL—Rodd Blakeslee isn’t taking this one sitting down. He’s challenging others in the community to step up to the Rockford Rotary Club’s newest event: the Big Daddy Duck Race with 22 giant ducks and bragging rights over some of our community’s best-known business people.

There is something really big in this tub and it can be yours for just $100. Well, not this one, but one just like it. Rodd Blakeslee of Blakeslee and Son Plumbing Heating Cooling and Air Conditioning is ready to take on anyone in a challenge that is as new as it is big.

“I don’t care if I have to slap a 50 horsepower engine and a sail on it, this duck is going to win,” Blakeslee said of a new Rockford Rotary event that will help children improve reading skills.

Those familiar with the annual Rotary Rubber Duck Race know they can purchase tickets that match the numbers on the bottom of Rotary’s rubber ducks. During the Start of Summer Celebration, the ducks are set loose from the downtown dam and the fastest in the fleet allow their ticket holder to win wonderful prizes.

This year the event upped the ante with introduction of a new twist—giant ducks that will compete in a category of their own. The Big Daddy Duck Race will take place at the same time as the regulation race and big duck owners must be present to gloat or eat crow, depending on their duck’s performance.

As part of the event, Blakeslee is in the process of training his duck in speed, starting slow with some workouts in his home bathtub, coached by Rodd himself. He said Squire readers will be able to monitor the progress of his Blakeslee and Son duck and perhaps that of other duck owners. Really enthusiastic duck fans can hurry to purchase one of only a few giant ducks left. Limited to a field of just 22, the ducks sell for $100 with all proceeds going to summer reading scholarships for kids in Rockford.

Unlike the smaller ducks, which will win prizes for 38 different ticket winners, the giant duck race winner will receive something even more valuable: bragging rights for besting such Rockford citizens as Roger Morgan, Kent County Commissioner; Rodd Blakeslee; Floyd Havemeier of Herman’s Boy; and Pete Kruer of Rockford Ace Hardware. Those who know this crowd don’t have to be told the satisfaction that will be derived by giving them a good spanking, competition-wise.

“I’ll take on anyone who buys a duck, but I am especially gunning for Floyd Havemeier and Pete Kruer,” said Blakeslee.

The ducks can be purchased from Rotarian and race chairman Erik Luxhoj. Tickets for the regulation-sized ducks can be bought from any Rockford Rotarian. Tickets are 20 for $75, five for $20, or $5 each.

Blakeslee said the idea of the training regimen, beginning with the photo op in the bathtub, was the idea of his wife, Lynne. “She is brilliant and also pretty good-looking,” said Blakeslee.

Watch the Squire for more news on the Big Daddy Duck Race and the progress of the speed skills of participating ducks.

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The Squire has been Rockford’s free weekly newspaper since 1871. Our loyal readership includes over fifteen thousand homes in the Rockford area, including the affluent Lakes area of Lake Bella Vista, Bostwick Lake and Silver Lake; Belmont, Blythefield, as well as Algoma, Courtland, Cannon and Plainfield Townships. The Squire is distributed through the U.S. Post Office every Thursday. We also deliver to in-town businesses and homes with paper carriers and news stands in our grocery stores and over thirty local shops.