Who let the ducks out? And how did they get to Town Hall? Don't worry, they're just rubber duckies, and they've been let out for a good cause.
The Town of Babylon recently its 16th annual Craft Fair and Duck Race at town hall. On the surface it's an enjoyable fair, with vendors selling their homemade jewelry and clothing, kids enjoying the rides and petting zoo, and attendees from all over – including residents from Lindenhurst and across Babylon –indulging in some funnel cake and corn dogs.
But that’s not all. There’s a deeper reason for the fun-filled event, and that's where the duck race comes into play. Attendees buy a rubber duckie, it gets tossed into the pond with hundreds of others, and off they go, “racing” (or floating, really) from one end to the other.
The winner of each race goes into the finals, and the big winner gets a cool $500. Thousands of ducks are entered, and the money is put to good use, namely for the Deborah Hospital in Browns Mills, NJ.
Deborah hospital started in 1922 as a tuberculosis sanitarium and pulmonary center. After TB was eradicated it expanded its focus to chest diseases, and in 1958 Dr. Charles Bailey, a pioneer in heart surgery, performed the first open heart surgery at Deborah, according to the website.
The non-profit hospital now specializes in heart and lung ailments, and the “duck money” goes right to the patients, paying for any services above that which insurance doesn't cover.
"You walk out of there holding your loved one's hand saying, ‘Gee, we don't owe a bill. We don't owe them anything,’" said Peggy Parry, event chairperson.
Close to a million dollars has been raised from the Babylon Town duck races alone through the years, and months of planning goes into the fair and race. The hard work is worth it, and Deborah Hospital is currently starting diabetes and wound centers, as well.
"It's just a lot of fun, when you volunteer, you feel joy, and to see that the culmination of all the hard work is in here where everybody's happy, it's the best thing in the world," said Toni Fragapane, Deborah board member.