Rubber Ducky race kicks off weekend as Old Town Hot Springs celebrates community appreciation day

Shelli Duke looks on as, from left, Odin, Mattias, Calder and Hazel Duke cheer on rubber duckies coming out of a water slide in Northwest Colorado Health’s Rubber Ducky Race on Sunday at Old Town Hot Springs. About 1,400 ducks raced down two water slides in 15 heats, with the fastest ducks earning prizes for their ticket holders. Northwest Colorado Health Marketing and Development Director Suzi Mariana said the organization hoped to raise $40,000 to help fund its hospice care program.
Eleanor C. Hasenbeck

Old Town Hot Springs is the place to be this weekend in Steamboat Springs as the nonprofit facility hosts the Rubber Ducky Race for Hospice at 11:30 a.m. on Saturday, Sept. 10. 

The annual event raises money for the Northwest Colorado Health hospice program, which provides end-of-life care for anyone in Routt County who needs it. 

Thousands of ducks will race down the waterslides at Old Town Hot Springs with the top finishers of each heat advancing to the finals. 

This will be the fourth year the event is held at Old Town Hot Springs, including the virtual edition in 2020. 

Previously, the event was held in the Yampa River.

“We love the partnership with Old Town Hot Springs,” said Suzi Mariano, senior director of marketing and development at Northwest Colorado Health. “I think it’s been beneficial to both of us. It’s a little bit more of a controlled environment. With the state of the river over the past five years, it was a natural progression for us to move over to Old Town Hot Springs.”

Before 2015, the hospital conducted the race and Northwest Colorado Health had a more formal golf tournament fundraiser. 

“We thought it was a great fit because the race itself and participation in the race is more accessible,” said Mariano. “The tickets are just $10, it’s family friendly and it’s a great fundraiser to support our hospice program.”

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The event is free for spectators, and an announcer and music will keep the crowd entertained.

The fun continues at Old Town Hot Springs on Sunday, Sept. 11, with Community Appreciation Day

“It’s truly just a celebration for our community and wanting to welcome everybody to our facility that doesn’t normally have the opportunity,” said Sarah Konopka, marketing director at Old town Hot Springs. 

Entry to the facility is free to Routt and Moffat County residents from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m, including the childcare center and the climbing wall. There will be pop-up classes including a spin class at 8:30 a.m., a ski fitness class at 11:15 a.m. and sunset yoga on the pool deck at 7 p.m.

The fun really kicks off at noon, though, with the first-ever belly flop contest. 

“There are two judging criteria,” said Konopka. “You’re judged on the flop. That’s your connection to the water, and then judged on style.”

Following that will be a log rolling competition at 2 p.m. 

First-place winners get a year membership while second- and third-place finishers earn $100 and $50 gift cards. 

Additionally, hot dogs will be served on the lawn outside until they run out. 

“It’s just a way of saying thanks and giving back to our community,” Konopka said. “We’re a nonprofit, we work with so many nonprofits in the community trying to get people into our doors and have access to the pools and swim lessons, the gym.”

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