WILKES-BARRE — The 6,000 bright yellow rubber ducks floating at the Coal Street complex in Wilkes-Barre on Saturday afternoon did much more than provide fun and color for spectators, each duck was bobbing for a cause.
The 25th annual American Cancer Society’s Duck Derby, presented by Blue Cross of Northeastern Pennsylvania, enabled participants to purchase a duck for $5 or six of the little fellows for $25. When the ducks were pulled from the water, their “owners” had the opportunity to win prizes that included $1,000, a remote car starter and a ladies watch.
Many participants were there in honor of loved ones who died from the disease or who are battling cancer.
Louise Chopyak, of Plymouth, said she has attended the event for many years in honor of her late grandmother, who had cancer. “I purchased six ducks and will also be helping pull ducks from the water,” said Chopyak. “It’s a pleasure to support such a helpful organization.”
Tux, the Wilkes-Barre Scranton Penguins mascot, also was on hand to help pull the ducks from the water and to entertain the children, who responded with applause and laughter upon his arrival.
“I really like being here because I get to play with my friends and see the ducks,” said Lilly Palchanis, 6, Plymouth. Her mother, Tracy Palchanis, said the event provided an opportunity to get the kids outside on a beautiful day and to have fun.
Blue Cross of Northeastern Pennsylvania set up a table to greet participants and to give out out sunscreen, toothbrushes, band-aids and information on healthy living. The organization has a commitment to supporting the community’s health, said Catie Kline, program assistant at Blue Cross.
Cindy Tomaine, co-chairwoman of the event, emphasized proceeds will be directed to the cancer society and its goal of “helping area residents get well, stay well, find cures and fight back.” “We benefit those affected by cancer in a variety of ways including support groups and transportation to treatment-related appointments,” Tomaine said.
She also emphasized the importance of education and research to find a cure.
About $20,000 was expected to be raised at the event.