Chicago Ducky Derby: A Quirky Spectacle for a Worthy Cause

Photograph by Klaus Steinberg

As the sun-drenched days of summer envelop Chicago, the city comes alive with an array of activities and events that beckon both locals and visitors to truly enjoy the warm embrace of the season. Among these affairs, the Chicago Ducky Derby stands out as a one-day-only experience that captures hearts while supporting a noble cause.

What is the Chicago Ducky Derby?

Each year, an army of thousands of rubber ducks take the plunge into the Chicago River, embarking on a race to the finish line. The event serves a heartwarming purpose: to raise funds for the Special Olympics. This captivating spectacle draws Chicagoans to the city’s downtown area, where they gather to witness the quacking race unfold. Many individuals even adopt their own ducks, with hopes of clinching victory and contributing to the Special Olympics’ vital initiatives.

The Chicago Ducky Derby impact is undeniable. Over the years, it has raised an impressive sum, often exceeding $300,000, which directly benefits over 20,000 athletes. In 2022, the event achieved a remarkable milestone, with over 75,000 ducks adopted and a record-breaking amount of funds raised in its 17-year history.

The Event Details

Mark your calendars for Thursday, August 10th, when the Chicago Ducky Derby will paint the river with a sea of cheerful yellow ducks. The festivities kick off at 10am with the Family Festival (Part One) at 401 N. Michigan Ave, offering free activities and live music by The Boy Band Night. The excitement reaches its peak at 1pm, as the ducks start the race with a Splashdown at the Columbus Dr. Bridge!

How to Get Involved

Participating in the Chicago Ducky Derby is not only entertaining but also a rewarding experience. While the event is free to watch, entering the race requires a minimum contribution of $5. This can be done online until approximately 12:30 PM on August 10th. Participants have the option to adopt a “Lone Duck” for $5, or a “Quack Pack” of six ducks for $25. For those seeking a more substantial impact, a “Flock of Ducks” (24 ducks) is available for $100. The “Diamond Duck Pack” will also be available, consisting of 240 ducks for $1,000.

As of now, 38,800 ducks have found their adoptive homes, edging the event closer to its goal of 100,000! To take part in this heartwarming race, visit

Quack-tacular Prizes Await

The anticipation of victory is heightened by an enticing array of prizes. The grand prize winner will cruise away in a 2024 Chevy Traxx, while the second prize offers a voyage by Royal Caribbean. The third-place winner is awarded a “Save the Duck Shopping Spree,” and the fourth-place contender claims a $2,000 cash prize. Winners will be notified directly via phone following the race, adding an extra layer of excitement to the event.

Join the Flock and Make a Splash!

The Chicago Ducky Derby seamlessly blends entertainment, philanthropy, and community engagement. It creates an experience that embodies the spirit of summer in the Windy City. Don’t miss your chance to join the flock, support a worthy cause, and witness the spectacle of the Chicago Ducky Derby!

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