Duckie Race ’24 

Malibu is the new champion! Winky’s comeback stymied! Dastardly Canyon comes in third!


DOZENS OF EXCITED spectators line the banks of the Neshobe behind Blue Moon Boutique as they await the duckies’ plunge over the falls.

BRANDON—This year’s Independence Day Celebration Duckie Race on Saturday, July 6 had more drama than a Joan Crawford film festival! 

Readers will recall that Canyon had been disqualified from last year’s event because of cheating and decided this year to double down on the malfeasance by kneecapping Winky, last year’s second-place finisher and the duckie whom Canyon perceived as his biggest rival. The attack was so serious that it was unclear whether Winky would be able to compete this year.

Generously sponsored in his recovery by Brandon’s Nifty Thrifty, Winky embarked on months of hardcore training on the Neshobe, rising before dawn to study the waterway’s unpredictable currents and often practicing ‘til long after dark. He was spotted just last week by local avian expert Sue Wetmore looking hale and hearty, his injury seemingly a distant memory and his spirits buoyed by an anticipated comeback. 

‘Twas not to be!

THE DUCKIES NEAR the top of the Neshobe falls in the annual Duckie Race on Saturday, July 6. The first three duckies to reach the finish line at the bottom of the falls won cash prizes.

THE BRANDON FIRE Department released the duckies into the Neshobe from a ladder truck on the shore. It was a dramatic beginning to a dramatic race! BFD was also at the bottom of the falls to catch the winners make sure all the duckies were safely returned. Thank you to the BFD for all their help with the race!

When the duckies were released by the Brandon Fire Department from a fire ladder cantilevered over the Neshobe River behind the Brandon Inn, a cluster that included Winky immediately took a commanding lead. The currents were especially swift that afternoon because of the heavy rains that had pummeled Brandon earlier that day. All that water came down from the mountains of Goshen and created challenging conditions that put the skills of all the duckies to the test.

As the vanguard neared the falls, Winky was in position to take a prize. However, also in that squad were Malibu, in her second attempt at the race, and Winky’s archnemesis Canyon!

“It’s all a bit of a whirlwind during the race and at times it can be hard to even know which way is up, but I caught a whiff of duckweed as I was trying to position myself for the falls. I immediately went into panic mode,” said Winky after the race. “I wanted to keep my eye on the currents, but I nearly choked on my own bile when I saw Canyon all up in my grill, grinning at me like a ghoul.” Winky tried to maintain his composure, but faint quacks of pain escaped his bill as he relayed this harrowing tale.

THE DUCKIES TAKE the plunge over Neshobe Falls. This is where the race took an unexpected turn.

“I totally lost focus. My paddlework was off. I could see the prize slipping away like a greased pig… all that strife and struggle was for naught! I disappointed my fans, my family, Nifty Thrifty! Why was he even in the race?! How did he get out of the ducktentiary?!” Winky fell into heaving sobs at this point and this author felt it cruel to continue the interview.

While Winky had been in position to claim a prize before hitting the falls, he fell behind after the drop and ultimately finished in fifth place, just short of the podium. Still, however, it was a noble effort for a bird that many had written off after the brutal attack. Even if fifth place does not come with a prize, in this instance it comes with the love and respect of an entire community whose hearts were broken along with Winky’s kneecap.

(LEFT TO RIGHT) Malibu, Anchovy, and Canyon came in first, second, and third, respectively, in the annual Rubber Duckie Race. It was Malibu’s second race, Anchovy’s first, and Canyon’s second, though he was disqualified last year for cheating. He was released from the ducktentiary on a ducknicality after his arrest for kneecapping Winky, this year’s favorite.

As for Canyon, he defied the odds and any sense of karma by coming in third. He had recently been released from the ducktentiary on a ducknicality. His attorney had successfully argued that the statutes under which Canyon had been charged did not apply to birds. Since neither the plain language of the statutes nor the legislative record mentioned birds, the judge was forced to concede that the state had no authority to hold Canyon. On his exit from the cardboard box where he’d been incarcerated, Canyon is reported to have said, “I must be traveling on now. ‘Cause there’s too many places I’ve got to see. And the bird you cannot change. Lord knows I cannot change.”

Officials with the race were at a loss to explain how Canyon had managed to enter the race despite all of his misdeeds, regardless of the outcome of his criminal proceedings.

“We certainly would not have allowed him to enter if we’d been aware of his release,” said an official who wished to remain anonymous for fear of reprisal. “But he competed fair and square this time. We detected no foul play. We felt bound to respect the outcome.”

“I think it’s an absolute travesty of justice and ethics and morality!” said Lilypad, Winky’s mother. “I don’t like to say mean things, but Canyon is definitely the one duck I wouldn’t mind seeing with a balsamic-orange glaze on a bed of basmati rice!”

“What can I say? I had a great lawyer. Name is Lionel Hutz. If any of y’all ever get tangled up in the criminal justice system, give ol’ Li-Li a holler. He’ll do you right,” said Canyon relaxing with a cup of chilled worms after the race. 

Asked whether he felt any remorse over his actions toward Winky, Canyon honked in derision and preened his tailfeathers.

ALYSSA HUTCHINS AND her daughter Elsie show off their $100 first-place prize. Their duckie, Malibu, beat the rest of the field in her second attempt at the race. Congrats to Alyssa, Elsie, and Malibu!

“I barely touched him,” he finally said. “It’s not my fault he’s so fragile. He should take calcium supplements and build up them bones!”

Seemingly neglected in the brouhaha surrounding Winky and Canyon was Malibu, the first-place winner from Scarborough, Maine. This was her second year in the race, having failed to podium last year.

“I just kept my head down and my feet paddling,” she said. “I know Canyon was disqualified last year and I’d heard what happened to Winky in the spring…I felt bad, but it’s a duck-eat-duck world and I couldn’t let it get to me. You don’t even have time to register anything going on around you when you’re in the thick of it. You have to concentrate on your own performance. I don’t let stuff like that harsh my mellow.”

In second place was Anchovy of Revere, MA, a relative newcomer to the sport.

“The watah was wicked cold,” said Anchovy, who was unaware of any of the controversy surrounding Winky and Canyon. “I just happened to be in Vermont visiting my nonna, who likes to spend the summah on Lake Dunmore, and thought, ‘why not give it a try?’ I’ve always been a fast swimmah. Plus, Brandon’s got a Dunks now and everything.”

The folks who purchased the winning duckies were 

  1. Alyssa Hutchins, who received $100 for Malibu’s first-place win
  2. Joy Smith, who received $50 for Anchovy’s second-place finish
  3. Val Zimmer, who received $25 for Canyon’s third-place result
DUCKIE RACE CHAIR Jessie Mohan receives the $25 third-place prize from winner Val Zimmer, who donated the winnings back to the Race Committee as a way of cleansing the controversial win by Canyon, who kneecapped Winky last spring to eliminate him from the race.

Ms. Zimmer lives in California but was in town visiting family. When she learned of Canyon’s checkered past, Ms. Zimmer donated the $25 prize money back to the Parade Committee, to be used for next year’s event.

“I felt it was important to pay it forward in order to put this mess behind us,” said Ms. Zimmer. “Maybe this will set Canyon on a better path.”

When Canyon heard this, he erupted in a quackaphony of laughter. 

“And this bird you cannot change,” he said. “Lord knows I can’t change.” 

All eyes are now on Duck Race 2025!

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