The Carlsbad Elks Lodge BPOE 1558 came to the rescue. The lodge offered its swimming pool for the June 8 event, said Cindy Elkins, Assistance League president.
Elkins said for the first time in 24 years, the annual rubber duck race won't be held in the irrigation canal located on Lamont Street behind the Northgate Shopping Center.
"Last year we almost had to cancel the Ducky Affair because the CID said there was no more irrigation water left for farmers. Then, at the last minute, they had a little more water and made a water release to farmers to coincide with the Ducky Affair," Elkins said. "This year, we were afraid there would be no water in the canal. We checked and were told there will probably be no water. So we had to look for another alternative or scrap the event."
Scrapping the event, Elkins said, would be devastating for hundreds of children who benefit from the proceeds of ticket sales at $5 per ticket. Each summer, the Assistance League provides new clothing, underwear and shoes for school children in the district whose parents are unable provide them at the start of the new school year. Last year the organization outfitted 800 children.
The names of the children are given to the organization at the end of the school year. Parents receive a postcard in the mail with an appointment time for their children. Each child is allowed to pick his or her own clothes, while the parent or guardian waits in a waiting area. "It makes us happy when the kids tell us that it's the best store they have ever been to," Elkin said.
She said when the Elks Lodge offered its facilities for the Ducky Affair, Assistance League members breathed a sigh of relief. However, some changes had to be made in the event.
Because 4,000 rubber ducks won't be able to race on the canal water current, the ducks will be dumped into the swimming pool and Elks Lodge officers, in the water and blindfolded, will pick rubber ducks at random. Each duck is numbered with a prize assigned to the numbered duck.
"Other than the ducks not floating across the finish line, nothing else will change," Elkins said. "The first place prize is still $1,500 and the last place prize is $500. In all, we have about 100 prizes that have been donated by the community."
Elkins said in addition to offering their pool, the Elks Lodge also purchased the 4,000 rubber ducks at a cost of $4,000.
"We just didn't have the needed money this year," Elkins said. "Every year we lose some in the canal. We tried to replace the ones we lost last year, but we couldn't get the same ones. The ducks have to be all the same, so the Elks graciously offered to buy the 4,000 new ducks for us. The only thing we had to do in exchange was to write the word `Elks' on every duck, along with a number."
Elkins said the benefit of having the event at the Elks this year is that there will be plenty of shade and picnic tables. The Elks will also be cooking hamburgers and hotdogs for a small charge. There will also be face painting and other activities for children.
Danny York, Elks Lodge trustee, said the local lodge has for many years been a major supporter of the Assistance League in the work they do in clothing children and their other philanthropic endeavors helping families in need.
He said when the organization found itself in a bind to find a body of water to float the rubber ducks and to purchase new ones, the Elks "stepped up to the plate" to help them out.
"The way I understand it, the Assistance League was basically told by the CID that there is very little water for irrigation and there was absolutely no guarantee there will be water," York said. "We felt the Ducky Affair is a wonderful fundraiser and the Elks swimming pool would work in a pinch. We (the Elks) are tickled to death to help them. We appreciate the work they do for the kids in the community."
York said, ideally, the irrigation canal is the best place for the annual event, and that's where the Assistance League hopes to hold it next year. However, if the drought continues and there is no water in the canal next year, the Elks will be glad to help out again.