MAPLEWOOD, NJ - For the first time in history, the South Mountain YMCA hosted a Duck Race that called itself virtual despite real rubber ducks, a rushing river, and colorful commentary.

River levels were high as a fiercely competitive field of 425 rubber ducks, each with the name of a sponsoring family or business emblazoned on their wing, fought their way downstream. Hundreds of spectators watched online to cheer, waddle at home, and celebrate this important community tradition, and the instant replay has been viewed thousands of times.

In a twist on the normal format in which the ticket holders win prizes donated by local businesses, this year’s race raised necessary funds to support and give back to those same businesses.

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Through a pay-as-you-can donation structure, the fearless flock raised $25,754. Over 25 percent has now been donated to the South Orange Village Center Alliance, the Maplewood Village Alliance, and the Springfield Avenue Alliance. Each organization received $2,500 for small business support and recovery, with the remaining funds supporting the Y’s programs, services and pandemic response efforts.

The speediest three ducks earned their sponsoring donors a socially distanced Y staff team visit right after the race including an appearance from The Big Duck himself.

“We are so grateful for the community’s ongoing support and would like to extend a particularly warm welcome to the over 200 new donors who joined us for this event,” said James Goodger, District Executive Director at the South Mountain Y.

“This support comes at such a vital time for our small business community. We are so grateful to be a part of such generous and caring community. Thank you to James Goodger, his incredible team at the Y and to everyone who sponsored a duck,” said Julie Doran, Executive Director of South Orange Village Center Alliance.

"The amount of money raised by the community for this virtual duck race was overwhelming. We live in such a special place!” said Deb Yohannan, Maplewood Village Alliance Manager. “The Maplewood Village Alliance is honored to be one of the recipients of the YMCA's generous give back program. I'm truly touched.”

"After all the canceled events and fundraisers this spring, the virtual Duck Race proved to be a fun and engaging way to support YMCA programs and small businesses,” said Nicole Wallace, Executive Director, Springrfiled Avenue Maplewood. “Thanks to James Goodger and the team for hosting such a creative event and to the community for getting involved and making it a success.”

ABOUT THE Y

Established in 1885, the Metropolitan YMCA of the Oranges invests in its diverse communities to promote wellness, safety and quality of life for children, adults and seniors. Its seven branches in East Orange, Livingston, Maplewood, Hackensack, Hardyston, Stillwater and Wayne are committed to nurturing the potential of kids, promoting healthy living and fostering a sense of social responsibility through an array of programs. Some 35,000 people belong to the Metro Y, which awards more than $2.8 million annually in direct and indirect financial assistance.