Georgia's Derby runs a tad slower than Kentucky's, but it raises lots of money for children.

rubber duck derby lake lanier
Georgia's popular Derby runs a tad slower than Kentucky's, but it raises lots of money for children.
| Credit: Courtesy of Rubber Duck Derby/Boys & Girls Clubs of Lanier

Ever attended a Rubber Duck Derby? Neither have we. But it sounds like a good time waiting to happen—and all for a good cause. May 5 marks the 19th running—make that floating—of this fundraiser on Lake Lanier, about an hour northeast of Atlanta. "Splashdown" happens at 5:30 p.m., when some 20,000 sunny rubber ducks will take the plunge on a lake course at Clarks Bridge Park, commencing a heated race to the finish line.

Can you have a heated race in water . . . with ducks wearing sunglasses?

Actually, it's not all that heated. The ducks are in a dreamy lake. And they're wearing sunglasses. So they look pretty chill. Plus, they don't so much paddle as plop in the water. Even so, they'll cross that finish line sooner or later and give a big Georgia crowd an excuse for a celebration.

We should all consider duck adoption.

Here's how Duck Derby works. You can adopt a single duck for $5; opt for a "Quack Pack" of 5 ducks for $25 and get a complimentary 6th duck; or buy a "Grand Pack" for $100 and receive 5 extra duckies for free. (We think the good folks in Georgia should consider changing "Grand Pack" to something more fanciful—"Flappin' Flock" or "Primo Paddle" perhaps?) Adoptive parents of winning ducks receive prizes, with a grand prize of $10,000 cash. (Thufferin' thucotash, as Daffy would say!)

Your adoption dollars will help lots of kids.

Proceeds benefit the Boys & Girls Clubs of Lanier. The Derby is this group's largest fundraiser of the year and supports a variety of programs essential to children in the area. Boys & Girls Clubs of Lanier helps keep young people on a strong academic track so they can graduate high school. The organization also stresses character-building, healthy living, and good citizenship.

How do rubber ducks race, you ask?

Given that your typical rubber species of duck has no feet with which to paddle and generally moves about via the docile currents of a bathtub—or a toss from a toddler—you might expect a Duck Derby to be a lengthy endeavor indeed. Not so for these fine fine rubber-feathered friends. Wind (and personal watercraft) create a wake to send the duckies on their way. Paddlers aboard kayaks and canoes are on hand to shoo wayward birds back on course.

No cheating, duckies!

Official race CPAs scrutinize the Derby and certify the results, so there will be no call for duck disputes. (You do not want to make a rubber duck angry. It's not a pretty sight.)

The Sheriff's Office attends. Must be some tough ducks.

Representatives from the Hall County Sheriff's Office attend the proceedings. (We have to wonder: In races past, did the anonymity provided by their cool shades lead some of the ducks to misbehave? It's a sad, sad thing when good ducks go bad. Kudos to Hall County's finest for keeping Georgia ducks on the straight and narrow.)

New to the Derby: Duck Fest

New this year is Duck Fest, a Cinco de Mayo celebration with live music, food trucks, and cold drinks, beginning at 6 p.m. in Lake Lanier Olympic Park across the street from the race site.

To adopt rubber ducks and support the kids, visit or call Duck Line at 770-656-2527.

Is there any doubt Southerners know how to have a good time? Here's a little more only-in-the-South fun for you.

It could be worse. We could've chosen all of our mispronounced towns from Louisiana. Can you say Bayou La Fourche? Grosse Tete? Plaquemines Parish?

By Valerie Fraser LuesseChelsea Clark and Boys & Girls Clubs of Lanier