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Ladies and gentlemen, start your ... ducks

A swarm of rubber ducks wearing sunglasses will turn Fort Lauderdale's New River into an unruly, bobbing sea of yellow during Saturday's Duck Fest Derby.

To be exact, 15,000 ducks will float along the banks of Esplanade Park, each one "sponsored" by a member of the public to benefit Kids in Distress of Broward and Palm Beach counties, to a finish line a few hundred yards away. The problem, says Kids in Distress spokeswoman Brittany Soule with a laugh, is that, sometimes, the squeaky bathtub toys don't move at all.

"We have to scoot them along with a hose," says Soule, one of the Duck Fest Derby's organizers. "The Fort Lauderdale Fire Department is out there spraying water from their ski boats, and we have some paddleboarders out there making sure the ducks don't stray."

The duck that bobbles to the finish first wins for its sponsor a four-day, three-night vacation to Mandalay Bay Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas. Second place collects a Norwegian Cruise Line cruise for two, third gets an iPad from Best Buy and fourth receives a pair of VIP passes to the 2013 Jingle Ball. Elsewhere at Esplanade, Kids in Distress sponsors will offer food and carnival-style games for families, as well as the annual KID Olympics, featuring disciplines in "duck toss" and jump-roping.

The seventh annual Duck Fest Derby runs 1 to 4 p.m. Saturday at Esplanade Park, 400 SW Second St., in Fort Lauderdale. Race begins at 3:30 p.m. Free admission. $5 to sponsor a duck and $20 for a five-duck "quack pack." 954-390-7620 or

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