Over 2000 yellow rubber ducks plunged into the Occoquan River today and then took their sweet time getting to the dock in the Annual Duck Splash Race.
Occoquan Mayor Earnie Porta oversaw the process from a boat in the middle of the river, surrounded by a small fleet of kayakers.
"There are three possible ways this race can go," Porta explained over a megaphone. Either the ducks would float toward the dock, or they would float away toward the island in the middle of the river, or they would stay still. The finish line would be established once the ducks' path was evident.
"And if they stay still, we'll do our best to entertain you until they get moving again," Porta said.
At 12:30 p.m., after a 10 second countdown led by a young girl named Sophia, the tarps holding the ducks up on the Route 123 bridge were loosed, and the ducks took a headlong dive into the river below. Once the water settled, the ducks slowly began floating toward the dock. A few minutes later, however, the wind changed, and they began floating away again. The finish line was then announced to be the second piling away from the docks. No sooner had the new finish line been announced then the flock of ducks began to drift back toward the town dock.
One rubber duck pulled up to the side of the flock of ducks and began to quickly pull ahead. The crowd laughed as they saw that the duck was attached to a larger motorized duck, remotely controlled by Occoquan Vice Mayor Ken Brunsvold, who made his contraption swim circles around the competetition.
After several minutes of this, it became evident that the water was just too calm for the ducks to float very far, and the kayakers began picking the ducks closest to the dock. Number 933 was the winning duck, with an anonymous adoptive parent.
Occoquan District Supervisor Mike May was there with his 5-year-old son, Leo.
"We really enjoyed it, but Leo was disappointed because," May began.
"We didn't win the race," Leo said, finishing the sentence.
"But it's for a good cause," May continued. "Although it's hard to explain that to a 5-year-old."
Connie Moser, with the Prince William Trails and Streams Coalition, ran the same day duck adoption booth.
Of the 2000-3000 ducks that were dropped, "well over a thousand were adopted," she said. "The race was slow -- I would love to see little motors on the back of them. Like that motorized duck -- the Vice Mayor was the Duck Whisperer."