BRADENTON -- Dozens and dozens of families came out Saturday afternoon to watch rubber ducks race down the Manatee River, all for a good cause.
The fundraiser for the PACE Center for Girls of Manatee County unleashed 15,000 rubber ducks in a race along the Riverwalk. About 11,300 of them were adopted to support the cause.
The fourth annual Lucky Ducky Race for PACE is expected to raise about $100,000 to help offset the cutbacks PACE has sustained, according to PACE Executive Director Amy Wick Mavis.
"This is the way we show our community that we are invested in raising money for ourselves," Wick Mavis said.
After a 45-minute trek down the Manatee River that was delayed due to wind and an uncooperative tide, the first-place duck belonged to Raymond Lemon, who won a two-year lease on a Buick Verano. Coming in second was Sandy Davis' duck, winning dinner for two at Anna Maria Oyster Bar for a year. In third was Brandon Waldeck's duck, winning a full year of unlimited car washes at Clear Sunset Carwash.
The Garland family came all the way from Orlando to watch the ducks race.
"My mother-in-law told us about it and has been dying to show us the Riverwalk," Keri Garland said. "So we thought it would be a fun time to come."
Garland, along with her husband, Tom, and their three children Katherine, 8, Elizabeth, 4, and Joshua, 1, joined in the competition.
"We bought five of them, one for everyone," Tom Garland said.
Mom had hopes for the car; meanwhile, the kids just wanted to know what was going to happen to all the ducks once the race was over.
A lot of people came out to the Riverwalk to get a piece of the action.
Ducks had been sold for six weeks prior to the event and right up to the last minute. It was $5 to sponsor a single duck or $30 for a flock of 100.
Karen and Tom Brouharb each bought a duck and came out to watch.
"I think this is a fantastic turnout, and the kids are having so much fun," Karen Brouharb said.
Karen Brouharb, a 33-year retired Manatee County School teacher, began substitute teaching at PACE in January and was happy to come out and show support, especially since it gave them an opportunity to check out the Riverwalk for the first time.
"This is awesome," Karen Brouharb said.
Organizers were happy with the turnout and the day's event.
"This was our first time here on the Riverwalk," Christi Hailey said. "It's a great venue. Families had a lot of fun."
Jessica De Leon, Herald reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7049. You can follow her on Twitter @JDeLeon1012.