Port Authority Discusses Duck Dash Safety Issues


At the Vermilion Port Authority meeting on June 11, 2020 the annual Duck Dash, tentatively scheduled for September 13, was discussed.

Mayor Forthofer said the awkward position he is in of keeping the city safe as best he can is that they have two options – one is to allow things, and one is not to allow things.

“You don’t allow things when you know nothing bad is going to happen, but if you allow it then you almost have to assume you’re going to lose control,” said the mayor. “It’s very hard to maintain. Like at Fish Festival, how do you inject 30,000 people into town and expect any kind of distancing or masks? You can’t.”

The mayor stated he really wants the Duck Dash to come off, as he knows how important it is to the Port Authority, and he knows the community enjoys it. But he asked that there be a plan that considers the virus.

“Just this year, if you can run by me what you’re planning and how you can minimize the exposure of people and the groupings of people you have, then I would appreciate it,” said the mayor. “I’m tired of saying no to things and I would like to be able to say yes to some stuff, so if you could do this I would appreciate it.”

The mayor stated he is not trying to play hardball – he just wants to assure himself that this is a reasonable risk and they should be able to move forward with it.

Miklos said that was reasonable. Strauss didn’t know how they could do this. Yancar said that Mr. Parson’s is not putting in the Mystic Belle. Riddle said he might as he is changing his mind, and they’re thinking in July. Strauss said they can get another boat if needed.

Miklos said they could always have a Duck Dash that is pre-sale only and they don’t have any people there. They can drop the ducks and whoever wins gets the money.

Yancar said historically they pick up a quarter to a third of their money on that day. Miklos said they would probably have a little less cost without door prizes, balloons, etc. Fisher said they could have a drive-up station where people can buy tickets that day. Yancar said since they didn’t have the kayak race associated with the Fish Festival, all the vendors they usually hit for that could continue and they can continue to draw tickets for that as a selling point. Miklos said there is no way that you could have people lined up against the river six feet apart to watch the ducks go down.

Strauss asked how they will keep them from not coming down. He said they should give this some serious thought on whether they need to kill it or whatever by the next meeting. He said if they set up the barriers to dump the ducks, without any balloons or fanfare, you’ll have people on top of people once you dump ducks into the river.

Yancar asked what was happening at German’s Villa – is he having large scale events at all? Mayor Forthofer said he is doing a controlled dinner with the same format as any restaurant venue has where they’re six feet apart. He’s trying to turn his place into an actual restaurant, and he has plenty of room to distance people.

Yancar said they have the ducks, and what if they had it at this kind of venue? Riddle said they could live stream it. Yancar said they could have the ducks in some monster container and have kids go in and start picking ducks instead of throwing them in the river.

Yancar said they can do a steak fry or fishing tournament instead. Fisher said they could have a virtual Duck Dash just like they did with graduation. Riddle said it will be too hard to keep people away because they are going to know. 

Miklos said they can have a strategy session about this issue and then they can run it by the Mayor.