Thousands of rubber ducks competed at the Rubber Duck Derby in Chicago (Credit: ShyCity Nikon/ CC-BY-SA-2.0/ Flickr)

On August 10, 2023, the Chicago River became a sea of yellow as thousands of rubber ducks plunged in for the Rubber Duck Derby. Celebrating its 18th year, the popular event helps raise much-needed funds for the Special Olympics Illinois.

The sunglass-wearing ducks all have numbers. Locals can adopt one or more ducks by paying a fee. It ranges from $5 for a single duck to $1,000 for a Diamond Duck pack of 240! The names of the sponsors are written next to the duck's numbers so winners can be notified.

The race began at Chicago's Columbus Drive Bridge (Credit: ShyCity Nikon/ CC-BY-SA-2.0/ Flickr)

This year, the festivities kicked off at 10:00 am with a family fair featuring free activities and live music. At 1:00 pm, Chicagoans flocked to the Columbus Drive Bridge to watch the splashdown. The assembled crowd enthusiastically cheered for the over 93,000 contestants as they floated along the river toward the finish line close to Michigan Avenue. The top four finishers were carefully plucked out by a vigilant volunteer.

In addition to bragging rights, the winners also get some amazing prizes. This year, the top prize was a 2024 Chevrolet Trax. The second-place winner got a Royal Caribbean cruise. The third-place prize was a shopping spree at Italian retailer Save the Duck. The fourth-place winner took home a cash prize of $2,000!

The rubber ducks were collected and stored for reuse at next year's Rubber Duck Derby (Credit: ShyCity Nikon/ CC-BY-SA-2.0/ Flickr)

Concerned about the plastic toys' impact on the river? Then you will be pleased to know that all the ducks are collected at the end of each race. They are then thoroughly cleaned and stored for reuse at next year's Rubber Duck Derby.