BERKELEY HEIGHTS, NJ - The early morning rain didn't disappoint the hundreds of Rubber Ducky Fesitval enthusiasts who wanted to see their duck cross the finish line at the 14th Annual Rubber Ducky Festival last Saturday.
"We lucked out with the weather -- Mother Nature started out with a challenge for us this morning," said Rotary Club of Berkeley Heights President-elect Jim Ramentol.
The weather cleared up and the Rotary Club of Berkeley Heights' signature fundraising event went off as planned. The festival drew a steady crowd whom came to enjoy the live music; face painting; and games, dunk tank, crafts and demonstrations run by the local Boy Scouts troops 368 and 68. And a dj emcee entertained the crowd, making announcements of the scheduled attractions and raffle winners.
Tents lined the fields with local vendors including: the Berkeley Heights Public Library, Berkeley Heights YMCA, Master Cho’s Talium Inc., Chimney Rock, Massage Envy, and Zita's Homemade Ice Cream with information and handing out give aways and Berkeley Heights Fire Engine 1 was on display in the parking lot for all to tour. There was also a car show featuring various antique cars, some which were over half a century old.
New this year was the a Gastro Truck from Grain & Cane Bar & Table serving up their signature lobster rolls as well as the grab and go hamburgers and hotdogs. Grain & Cane is opening this fall in the new Embassy Suites by Hilton Berkeley Heights. The Gastro Truck will be serving lunch at the soon to be opened Grove Park at Connell Corporate Park in Berkeley Heights.
Although there was a lot going on that day, the star of the day is always the Duck Derby with 4,000 rubber duckies racing down the Passaic River. This year, the first place prize was awarded two tickets to see Broadway's Hamilton, second place was a four month family membership to Lifetime and third place was 12 Monthly Flower Arrangements by Hall’s Garden Center .
This event supports Rotary Club’s projects, including the Medic-Alert program for over 200 area solo senior citizens, helping over 400 local Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts, and supporting in-town organizations such as the Police Department, Volunteer Rescue Squad, the Public Library, all school libraries, and Gov. Livingston senior scholarships.
The Rotary Club of Berkeley Heights is on a membership push, said Ramentol. With a larger membership, it will allow for "more hands on deck when we do things for the community -- service above self, that's the motto." The Rotary Club of Berkeley Heights meets the second and fourth Wednesdays at 12:15 p.m. at Chimney Rock Inn in Gillette.