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Contest sets stage for annual derby

Photo by Joel Hall “Georgia Duck” dominates over “Florida Gator” in a Duck-O-Ration diorama sponsored by the Crane Hardware store in Jonesboro. Clayton County CASA’s annual Duck-O-Ration tour is currently making its way to county businesses, in order to generate a buzz about the 12th annual Darlin’ Duck Derby. 

Photo by Joel Hall “Georgia Duck” dominates over “Florida Gator” in a Duck-O-Ration diorama sponsored by the Crane Hardware store in Jonesboro. Clayton County CASA’s annual Duck-O-Ration tour is currently making its way to county businesses, in order to generate a buzz about the 12th annual Darlin’ Duck Derby. 

For the next three weeks, decorated ducks of all shapes and sizes will waddle their way through the Clayton business community as part of Clayton County CASA's (Court Appointed Special Advocates') Duck-O-Ration Contest tour.

The colorful parade of ducks is a part of creating a buzz around CASA's 12th annual Darlin' Duck Derby, which will take place on Sept. 25, at Olde Towne Morrow.

According to CASA Child Welfare Services Coordinator Gerald Bostock, nearly 20 local businesses this year have designed funny and unique duck-themed dioramas, which will make their way to several local business between now and Sept. 25.

At each stop on the tour, the public will have a chance to vote on their favorite duck. The winning duck will be announced during CASA's V.I.D. (Very Important Duck) Ceremony, taking place at Chili's Bar & Grill, of Morrow, on Sept. 23, at 6 p.m., according to organizers.

Bostock said the Duck-O-Ration Contest is a fun way for businesses to promote the Darlin' Duck Derby, which raises funds to support the work of CASA volunteers.

CASA volunteers, he said, serve as the eyes and ears of judges presiding over child-deprivation cases, and the duck serves as the organization's mascot, as well as a symbol of childhood innocence.

Bostick said the contest also serves as an "icebreaker" to introduce people to the work of CASA and the importance of advocating on behalf of abused children.

"I like that it brings our sponsors together to educate the community about child abuse and neglect," said Bostock. "It's also a chance for the community to be able to laugh, and at the same time, learn about the seriousness of child abuse, and how it impacts our community.

"This is such a serious topic ... but this allows for an easy transition," he said.

According to organizers, the ducks have been on display this week at Heritage Bank of Jonesboro. On Friday, the ducks will make their way to Krispy Kreme Doughnuts and Coffee in Riverdale, and then to Orthopaedic South Surgical Center in Morrow, on Sept. 7.

On Saturday, Sept. 11, the ducks will show up at First Presbyterian Church of Jonesboro, and will be displayed at Heritage Cadillac, Saab, Mitsubishi of Morrow starting Sept. 13.

On Sept. 15, the ducks will travel to Clayton State University. On Saturday, Sept. 18, the ducks will appear at Southlake Mall, with additional stops to be announced.

Businesses sponsoring ducks in the Duck-O-Ration contest include medical offices, hardware stores, restaurants, library systems, florists, car dealerships, and volunteer groups. Paint, costumes, papier-mâché, and a variety of props have been used to show ducks in scenes from "Gone With the Wind;" tending to patients; reading the newspaper; and even performing as the "Blue Man Group."

CASA Advisory Board Chairman Sabrina Crawford said the contest gets people talking about the Darlin' Duck Derby. "It's a lot of fun," she said. "It's a competition between the different sponsors, and it's really fun to see all of the creative ideas. When people see the ducks decorated, the first thing people want to do is come over and talk about them," she said. "They start questioning the creative ideas, and then they get to asking, ‘Why do we decorate ducks?' It's really the starting point to announcing it's time for the Duck Derby event to start."

For the first time this year, the Darlin' Duck Derby will be moved from the front lawn of the Historic Clayton County Courthouse, to Olde Towne Morrow, near Southlake Mall. Crawford said the additional space would allow for added vendors and children's activities.

Leading up to the derby, people will have the chance to purchase any, or all, of 4,000 rubber ducks, which will race to the finish line of a giant water slide.

The person whose duck finishes first will win $2,000 in cash, and the second-place winner will receive $1,000, with numerous prizes for subsequent finishers, Crawford said.

According to Crawford, this year's derby will feature music, bounce houses, and games for children, and Darlin' Duck Derby ticket holders will have the chance to "crack" the combination of a safe, and win a 2010 Mitsubishi Lancer.

Ducks for the Darlin' Duck Derby are currently on sale for $5 per duck, or $25 for a "six quack" of ducks. To purchase tickets, call (770) 477-3268, or visit www.ducksrcoming.com/Derby_Tickets.html.