YMCA’s duck race brings community together to support local families

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MAPLEWOOD, NJ — The beloved South Mountain YMCA Duck Race returned to Maplewood on Memorial Day, May 30, raising $18,632 for local children and families through duck sponsorships, ticket and T-shirt sales, prizes, and individual donations.

This year’s sold-out event began with race participants, decked out in duck-themed clothing and accessories, marching with the community in the town’s Memorial Day Parade before the race kicked off at Memorial Park. A total of 3,500 rubber ducks were released down the river, grouped into five heats. Maplewood resident Ally Scherzer, voted by YMCA leaders as Mayor for the Day, had the honor of being interviewed by Mayor Dean Dafis and dropping the ceremonial first duck to get the races underway.

“The duck race is a highlight of the Y’s calendar year, celebrating the power of community while also raising funds to support local families and youth so they can access the support and services they need to thrive,” South Mountain YMCA Executive Director James Goodger said. “Thank you to the amazing Y staff team, board of managers, sponsors, prize donors, all the volunteers, township officials and friends of the Y. Together we impacted many lives in one day.”

Proceeds from the duck race go toward the Y’s financial assistance program, which helps make Y programs, such as child care and summer camp, affordable for families with extenuating circumstances. In 2021 alone, the South Mountain Y awarded more than $346,000 in direct financial assistance, with one in 12 children in summer camps receiving assistance.

Funds raised will also support children in local group homes through a partnership with Youth Consultancy Services, as well as support local nonprofit MEND Hunger Relief Network, which will receive 20 percent of proceeds as the recipient of the Ellie Gianni Community Impact Grant.

Photos Courtesy of Joy Yagid Photography