They wont exactly be ducks out of water, but the usual fuel for these racers is certainly in short supply.
Each year for the past 24 years, SCAN (Stop Child Abuse and Neglect) has held a duck race as a fundraiser, but in all that time with all the inevitable problems that have come up, theyve never run out of water in the river.
Technically, there is water in the river for todays Weigand Construction Duck Race to Benefit SCAN. Theres plenty of water, actually. The St. Joseph River where the ducks race is about 2 feet deep at the river gauge upstream north of Interstate 469. Thats about the normal river level during the summer months.
But usually, just before the start of the race, city officials open floodgates on the St. Joseph River Dam at Johnny Appleseed Park, producing a big current to flush the ducks from their starting point just below the dam to the finish line at the parks boat launch.
But with this years drought, theres not enough water for city officials to open the dam, which leaves the river below the dam almost without a current.
SCAN officials found out about noon Friday that their duck race, set for 11 a.m. today, would be a lot more like a duck parking lot.
Weve never, ever, in 24 years had to come up with contingency plans on how to get them moving, SCAN spokeswoman Jennifer Boen said.
And theres a lot of ducks to move – SCAN topped its highest fundraising goal ever this year, raising more than $153,000. That will put close to 18,000 ducks in whatever water there is.
But will they race?
They will, say officials, thanks to some help.
SCAN Executive Director Rachel Tobin-Smith said she spent most of the day Friday at the river trying to figure out a way to get ducks to float down a river that isnt moving.
Im dirty. Ive been throwing sticks in the river all day, she said.
What officials have come up with is this: Giant fans donated by Weigand Construction, running off generators donated by R.E. Cosby & Sons, will be set up to blow the ducks across the river, rather than down it.
Thats about 30 yards, instead of a quarter-mile, Tobin-Smith said. Our current thinking is well get them across the finish line with a little assistance.
That assistance could also come in the form of a fire hose.
Stacey Fleming, public information officer for the Fort Wayne Fire Department, said there will be a fire engine on hand to hose the ducks across the river, if needed.
Were hoping to generate enough water power to launch those ducks across the river, Fleming said. Well be there to assist them in any way we can.
SCAN, 500 W. Main St., promotes prevention of child neglect and abuse and also family restoration.