Duck Soup: The Great Hawaiian Rubber Duckie Race


Photo: Stephen Dantzig Photography

Every year since 1988, thousands of rubber duckies have been dumped from the Kalakaua Avenue Bridge into the Ala Wai Canal and, as easy as a duck takes to water, they’ve floated downstream in a “race” that raises funds for the United Cerebral Palsy Association of Hawaii (UCPAHI). It’s $5 to adopt a duckie, with the first 50 funneling through oil-spill booms about 50 yards away crowned as winners, and the dead-last duck receiving the Lame Duck Award. All 20,000 duckies are then fished out and reused the next year.

With the average race lasting around 15 minutes, the current record time is just short of 7 minutes, and the longest race lasting close to 45 minutes. One year, the winds and tide were so strong that the ducks were “literally hydroplaning,” according to UCPAHI executive director, Donna Fouts. The Great Hawaiian Rubber Duckie Race raises about $50,000 annually, with a 26-year total of more than $1 million.

March 22, pre-race activities start at 9 a.m. at McCully Shopping Center. The race begins at 1:27 p.m., with the strongest outgoing tide.


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Honolulu Magazine March 2018
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