Annual Great Housatonic Duck Race set for Memorial Day

“Be like a duck. Calm on the surface, but always paddling like the dickens underneath.”
—Sir Michael Caine, actor

In New Milford, ducks that are calm on the surface manage to be philanthropic heroes without paddling like the dickens underneath.

Actually, the local heroes are the New Milford Rotary members who organize the Great Housatonic Duck Race, an annual fundraiser in which a flotilla of large plastic ducks “races” down a stretch of the river. Sponsors pay $5 per duck, and prizes are awarded to those who sponsored the top five finishers.

This year’s race takes place at noon on Memorial Day, after New Milford’s parade.

Cramer & Anderson Attorney Thomas Mott
Cramer & Anderson Attorney Thomas Mott

“It’s one of our biggest fundraisers. It draws a lot of people from the area, mostly from New Milford,” said Rotary member and Cramer & Anderson Attorney Thomas W. Mott, who was selling duck sponsorship tickets with his family outside the firm’s New Milford office May 21.

Tickets will continue to be sold through Monday morning, and Attorney Mott will have a booth set up in front of the Cramer & Anderson office on the morning of Memorial Day to sell tickets.

“There should be several Rotarians walking the Green to sell tickets, a table on Railroad Street, and tickets can be purchased near Young’s Field as well,” said Attorney Mott, who lives in New Milford and has been a Rotary member since 2014.

The sponsor of the first-place duck wins a 55-inch HDTV; second prize is $500 cash; third prize is an iPod Touch; fourth place yields a Kindle Fire HD; and the fifth-place prize is a 26-inch mountain bike.

“It’s one of our best fundraisers,” said Attorney Mott. “The money gets puts into our charitable fund. At end of fiscal year, we vote on where the money goes.”

In the past, the funds raised have helped a local gem, Harrybrooke Park, and the New Milford Visiting Nurse Association, for example.

In 2014, with approximately 2,000 duck sponsorships, the net proceeds from the race totaled $10,282, and in 2015, with about 1,500 sponsorships, the figure was $7,824. As of May 25, about 1,200 duck sponsorships had been sold this year.

Revenue for the event—and fun for those who participate and watch—also comes from concessions sold near Young’s Field on Memorial Day.

“The kids love it,” said Attorney Mott, whose practice areas include civil and commercial litigation, workers’ compensation, personal injury, and real estate transactions.

He may be reached in the New Milford office at 860-355-2631, or by email at

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