Behind the Status
Sunday 11 May 2014, duck race in Stadspark Maastricht. (Description of the event on Facebook).
On 11 May, the Jeker, a river that flows into the Meuse in Maastricht, will turn yellow. “For five euros you can adopt a rubber duck that will compete against ten thousand other ducks”, says the race organiser Jerome van Zeijl. “The louder you cheer, the faster your duck will go. The duck that crosses the finish line first wins.”
A total of forty prizes are up for grabs, ranging from a Vespa ride in the Limburg countryside to a match shirt signed by the football player Rafael van der Vaart. “The ultimate prize is a Mini Cooper that you get to drive for a year.”
The duck race is an initiative of Round Table 174 Maastricht, a service club. “Our motto is adopt, adapt, improve. For us, that means learning, having fun and giving back to the community.” Organising the duck race falls into the latter category. “For the last sixteen years, we’ve been hosting an October gala to raise money, but in the last couple of years it became clear that the event had reached its expiration date. We still wanted to host something – a more accessible event, so that everyone can enjoy it. During a brainstorming session someone raised the idea of a duck race, which already exists in a few other Dutch cities, and everyone was excited about it.”
The money raised will go to the Maastricht Animal Park Foundation, which will use it to provide education about animals, acquire new animals and start collaboration with the Gaia Zoo in Kerkrade.
Even for those not involved in the competition, the event will be fun, says Van Zeijl. “We’ve organised several other activities as well: there’ll be music performances and a couple of workshops, such as cocktail shaking and sheep shearing.”