An 11-year-old skier has been stationed in front of an Aspen grocery store nine hours a day for the past several weeks so he can sell enough plastic ducks to continue his skiing endeavors.
Sky Sosna was selling ducks to Shannon Bolona on a recent afternoon in front of Clark’s Market.
“You just need to put your name, email, phone number and how many ducks you wish to adopt. Most people buy three ducks for $20,” he explained.
“So are these the winning ducks?” Bolona responded.
“Yeah,” Sosna replied just before closing the deal.
“This is your copy, your duck number for all three ducks, that's the date of the race and all of the information is inside,” he told her.
He was selling for the 25th annual Ducky Derby race to be held Aug. 13. Like most kids who grew up in the Roaring Fork Valley, selling ducks in the summer is a given.
“My first year I started at City Market and I thought it was good there, and then my second year I was there too,” Sosna said. “Then I decided to go to Clark’s my second year for the second half and I had my first day at $1,000, which I would usually make $500 at City Market, so then I started going here and since then I’ve been at Clark’s.”
He and his two dogs, Lucky and Snowy, started selling around 10 a.m. and packed it up at 7 p.m. Sky has been selling ducks since late June. He is raising money for one of the many youth groups that participate in the Ducky Derby. He works so he can do what he loves in the winter.
“I get 50 percent of the money I make and that goes towards my ski program,” he said.
Last year, Sosna raised $6,000 for the Aspen Valley Ski Club. This year his goal is to sell $15,000. He’s aiming for $1,000 days. He hit his goal Monday. As a freestyle skier, Sky always wants to go bigger.
“I already started really early because I got ducks early, and then I realized that I was doing really well when I reached my goal from last year so then I decided to make a bigger goal,” he said.
The “Head Duck” for this year’s event is Chris Bendon. He said the derby raises about $300,000 overall with a lot of support from the community. There are about 25 youth groups raising money for themselves and the Aspen Rotary Club.
“So you see kids out selling ducks, they raise quite a bit through that,” Bendon said. “Some of the larger ones will raise in the neighborhood of $20,000 to $30,000 for their organization. And then the Rotary Club uses the benefits primarily for local scholarships.”
The race is at Rio Grande Park when 30,000 ducks will get dumped into the Roaring Fork River at No Problem Bridge. They will be taken out just below the Mill Street Bridge. Winning this year’s race could result in some big money.
“First duck home is $10,000,” Bendon said. “We have a potential for a $1 million winner … We’ll have about 10 ducks within that 30,000 and if that duck comes home first and it's your duck, million dollar winner.”
The Head Ducks wants everyone to remember: “You can’t be lucky, unless you buy a ducky.”