Freestore Foodbank hopes to break records in 2021 Rubber Duck Regatta

Mark Bodnar, the current chair of the Rubber Duck Regatta steering committee and Mick Clay, the Freestore's director of development operations, stand with 'Quacky' at the Freestore Foodbank on Aug. 18, 2021.

Twenty-seven years ago, the Freestore Foodbank's largest annual fundraiser began with a dream and a couple thousand rubber ducks. 

The Rubber Duck Regatta was started by former Freestore Foodbank chairman Bob Edwards after seeing similar events around the country. It was a passion project that he nurtured and grew year after year. 

"I think it was Bob's life even more than his job," Sylvia Edwards, his wife, said. "There's no way to ever explain what this meant to him."

From 16,000 ducks dumped into the Ohio River the first year in 1994, the regatta has since grown into the largest rubber duck event in the Western Hemisphere, according to the food bank. 

Bob and Sylvia Edwards spray off ducks after the Rubber Duck Regatta in 2002.

The Rubber Duck Regatta takes place during Cincinnati Riverfest, a Labor Day tradition that ends with the Western & Southern/WEBN fireworks over the Ohio River.

More:WEBN's annual Labor Day fireworks show to resume launching over the Ohio River

After Edwards' death in 2014, the fundraiser has continued on, with more than $1 million raised each of the last seven years. Last year was the first year 200,000 ducks were sold, capping the fundraiser. 

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