It’s probably not marked on your calendar. In fact, there are probably notations handwritten onto only a handful of calendars around the country. It’s not one of those observances that would normally attract a lot of attention.
Sunday, Jan. 13, is Rubber Duckie Day. Actually, on the calendar of unusual, odd and little known observances, every January 13 is so designated. That date shares billing, however; it is also designated annually as Public Radio Broadcasting Day, and this year is named as Stephen Foster Day, as well.
Maybe it’s the North Texas weather this week, with the much-needed, but still-dreary rain; or perhaps the news story about flash flood warnings accompanying the rainfall, or the fact that Dallas’s White Rock Lake is expected to crest this evening at about 10 feet above flood stage. But, for some reason, it seems appropriate to mark Rubber Duckie Day in some manner.
The little yellow bath companion of so many children has a devoted following, it seems, with websites, newsletters, gatherings, blogs, collectors and events that can’t help but produce smiles. Fans of the traditional yellow duckie have transformed it from a simple childhood toy into something of a folk phenomenon. There is a listing in the Guinness Book of World Records for the collector with the most “quacks.”
Rubber Duckies are available in all sizes, a few varied shapes, numerous colors and with all sorts of “costumes” and personalities. However, the perennial favorite is still the yellow version, with bright orange bill and either blue or black eyes. Many collections feature “one of a kind” or limited-edition duckies; Stories are circulated about duck adventures, and tales are told of lost or rescued ducks. Ducks were even used in a NASA experiment, and there is a continuing epic of a group of “globe-trotting” ducks that “jumped ship” in the Pacific in January of 1992. Really.
View the Video of a 2010 race in Santa Fe
Rubber Duckie (or sometimes Ducky) Races, generally to benefit local charities, have been held from Seattle to the Ozarks, and from the Chesapeake to Crested Butte, Colo., with numerous events in between. One of the largest duck races is in Hawaii, and some of the most informal are in local creeks and canals, or even in swimming pools. The record-breaking event was held in London in the summer of 2008, with 250,000 blue duckies released to paddle down the Thames, raising funds for 447 charities.
In Texas, over the years, many communities, including Lubbock, Luling on the San Marcos River, Rockwall and Richardson have sponsored races. Groups such as Rotary and the South Texas Lighthouse for the Blind, and even Texas A&M students in Corpus Christi have found duck events to be great ways to have fun, involve others and raise funds for good causes.
San Antonio will again be the site on Oct. 5, 2013, of the River Walk Lucky Duck Race on the river. For an adoption fee of $5, participants can cheer their own ducks on to victory and benefit Haven for Hope and the Paseo del Rio Association. Approximately 20,000 ducks will be released into the river.
The year started off well for ducks, when the Oregon Ducks were victorious over Kansas State in the Fiesta Bowl on Jan. 3. With the certainty of many other duckie events planned throughout the year, 2013 should be another good one for the unsinkable little toys. Next time you see one, go ahead – Smile.