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3,000 ducks, all in a row

Residents are encouraged to sponsor a plastic duck in the Weeki Wachee duck race benefiting the Family YMCA.

The only thing missing will be bubble bath.

On Saturday, thousands of yellow plastic ducks will ride the current in the third annual Wild N' Wacky Weeki Wachee Duck Race.

The Hernando County Family YMCA benefit has become a popular event for duck sponsors, executive director Pat Eckelkamp said.

For $5, benefactors can "adopt" one of the little yellow contenders. If their duck, marked with a coded racing number, is one of the first to the finish line, they win a prize.

"It's pretty neat to see 3,000 ducks corralled into the chute," Eckelkamp said. "We even sell duck calls."

The race begins at 5:30 p.m. in Weeki Wachee Spring's Buccaneer Bay, where contenders are corralled for the start gun. Racers, carried along by the river's 5 mph current, travel about 300 yards to the finish line.

Eckelkamp said money raised through duck adoptions benefits the YMCA's scholarship program for before- and after-school care.

Though Weeki Wachee Spring and Buccaneer Bay Water Park close half an hour before the race, Eckelkamp said sponsors are encouraged to come early as their $5 duck adoption includes park admission from 3 to 5 p.m. and a spot for the race.

For information, call Weeki Wachee Spring at 596-2062.