In 1987 the North Snohomish County Rotary pledged $10,000 towards the construction of the Arlington Community Youth Center, to house the Arlington Boys and Girls Club. Discusions occured regarding a possible new fund raiser.

We had heard of a Rotary Club in British Columbia which held a rubber duck derby. A contingent of club members were dispatched to view their event. They came back with a video tape of the race.

About this same time, the Washington State Gambling Commission adopted new regulations which allowed alternative format raffles, such as rubber duck races. We decided to go for it.

The first year the ducks were rented from a non profit organization in Canada. Mike Jarboe and John Henken were co-chairmen of the first race. Dave Woods, director of the Boys and Girls Club, was our raffle manager. (He soon thereafter left for the Boys and Girls Club in Ferndale and talked the Whatcom County North Rotary Club to start a duck race).

5059 tickets were sold the first year. But, what looked to be a profitable venture almost became a dissaster when the oil boom soaker (spongy material) loaded with water and dipped below the rivers surface. It hardly even slowed down the ducks as they arrived at the Haller Bridge. What a crowd pleaser, as Rotarians and volunteers (two of them on jet skis) went on a rubber duck roundup. The ducks (not owned by us) were rounded up for a profitable event.

At first the race was on the afternoon of the 4th of July. In 1991 we tried the race in conjunction with the Fly-in. By moving the event it was thought we could sell tickets for the first time at the Frontier Days Grand Parade. But our planning failed to take into consideration that without Frontier Days, most Rotarians left town for the holiday.

In 1992 we started a come back. The Frontier Days Association agreed to move the parade earlier in the evening, allowing the race after the parade. However, we found ourselves competing with the association for the sale of raffle tickets.

The Frontier Days Association, and since, the Greater Arlington Chamber of Commerce joined forces with us to co-sponser the event. Proceeds were divided based on ticket sales.

In 1999 a new twist was added: a million dollar duck. We pay a premium to an insurance company that draws 20 numbers in advance. If there is a match with the winner, them the insurance company pays the winner an annual amount over a number of years, totaling a million dollars.

Starting with the 2000 race, we have gone back to sponsoring the event ourselves. Most Chamber tickets sold historically were by members of both Rotary and Chamber. A commitment has been made, in recognition of the fact that the event creates a built in customer base, and as a part of our service to our community, to continue with funding of Frontier Days. We have been giving $5,000 each year to the Chamber.

Oso Lumber pledged the first place prize for Duck Dash 2000. In 1999 we also started quack pack sales to businesses to help us defray costs.

In 2000 we purchased 12,000 new rubber ducks, which we have bar coded to make our work easier. These ducks are owned by just our Rotary Club. In the past we have shared ownership of ducks with the Lacey, Kelso, and North Whatcom Clubs.

The 2001 race saw the addition of discount ticket books. A change in the Gambling Commission rules allows the sale of 5 tickets in a book for the price of 4 tickets. Each book is now bar coded to allow easier tracking.

In 2004, two new approaches were utilized. We had non profit organization sell discount tickets in advance. $5.00 of each book sold goes to the non profit, and the Rotarian responsible for distibution get the credit for all such sales.

A coupon book was also new for 2004. Corporate sponsors provided discount coupons to be used with a duck dash ticket. Each boxholder received a book in the mail. The last few years also has had more corporate sponsors. $10,500 was pledged in 2004 not counting the $21,500 received for coupon participants and those who donate for the prize pool for 4th through 10th prizes.

At a visioning session following the 2010 race, the club indicated a desire to increase revenue from the event to $100,000.  Under the chairmanship of Linda Byrnes the concept of sponsors was added with different levels of giving ranging from name on t-shirt at $500 to having name on the race at $10,000.  The goal was to raise $35,000 from sponsors.  $34,500 was raised before ticket selling even started. 

Sponsorships have taken our fundraising to much higher levels. In 2018 we raised over $100,000.  In 2019 we seek to raise $150,000 in sponsorships.  Stay tuned for the results!