Ducks ahoy!

The ocean off the pier will be duck soup this weekend, as thousands of yellow, plastic waterfowl turn the surf gold for charity.

All proceeds from the 17th annual Duck-A-Thon races will benefit AltaMed’s Huntington Beach Community Clinic, which offers free and low-cost services for locals in need.

An all-volunteer committee, the Duck-A-Thon Support Group makes the event the clinic’s biggest fundraiser.

Founded by longtime community volunteer Donna Cross and friends, the Duck-A-Thon began as a small effort after an unsuccessful yard sale to raise money for the clinic.

“It’s just been an incredible experience for me, for 17 years,” said Duck-A-Thon founding member Marilyn MacAllister. “We’ve become a family in a way — a ducky family, I guess. We work hard and we have a lot of fun.”

Starting with just 200 to 300 ducks, last year’s race to the shore was made by more than 4,000 of the intrepid travelers.

Saturday, the main event at 3 p.m. will feature standard and themed ducks that will make their way ashore after being dumped off the pier by the Papa Duck dumper.

The first 50 ducks ashore will win prizes for their owners; the hand-decorated birthday-themed Centennial ducks that reach shore in that group will win double the prizes. Possible prizes include $1,000 cash, weekend getaways, amusement tickets and restaurant gift certificates.

Standard ducks are $10 each; birthday ducks are $20.

On Sunday, a corporate event at 3 p.m. will include a race by “big mama” ducks sponsored by local businesses, organizations and individuals who compete to keep the Golden Duck Traveling Trophy for one year. The first duck to shore wins.

Corporate ducks are $100; the birthday version is $125, and a flock of five ducks, including one birthday and four corporate ducks, is $500.

Those who compete can pick up their prizes and ducks after their race Saturday or Sunday. All winners will be called.

A Sunset Wine Tasting event from 6 to 8 p.m. Friday will include boutique wines and champagne, as well as official Centennial beer from Brewbakers. Local eateries like Duke’s, Rubio’s and Hooters will provide hors d’oeuvres; a silent auction, and door and raffle prizes include a flat-screen HDTV and hotel stays. The event is $40 for pre-sale or $50 at the gate. A $60 VIP ticket includes parking, a tall souvenir glass and expedited entry.

The weekend also will feature a Duck Festival at Pier Plaza from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday, which features gifts, arts and crafts as well as a food court, and a Children’s Area with games and activities like decorating retired ducks, a ring toss, coloring activities and a Duck Dip, where patrons can “scoop” up prizes.

The community clinic has been serving the area for 40 years, and was formed by 10 teachers and mental health interns, who joined to form a community hotline for teen alcohol and drug problems.

Response to the hotline instead became an indication of a much greater need, and the clinic that was born from it now provides medical examinations, immunizations, women’s health care services and dental care for all ages.

For more information on the clinic, visit cchcoc.org.

QUACK FACTS

STARTED IN: 1992

RAISED TO DATE: more than $2.7 million

VISITORS EACH YEAR: more than 50,000

PATIENTS SERVED BY COMMUNITY CLINIC TO DATE: more than 31,000   IF YOU GO

WHAT: 17th annual Duck-A-Thon

WHEN: Friday through Sunday

WHERE: Huntington Beach Pier

INFO: (714) 500-0382, hbduckathon@aol.com, duckathon.org


Reporter CANDICE BAKER may be reached at (714) 966-4631 or at candice.baker@latimes.com.

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