Rubber duck treats couple to dinner in New Zealand

WESTPORT —  As Linda and Ron Gaudet enjoyed a leisurely Maine vacation, one little rubber duck named “Madge” raced her tail off in windy conditions through the channel that runs from Buzzards Bay to Allens Pond. Madge's spring was fast enough to capture the grand prize in the ninth annual Allens Pond Duck Derby fundraiser last month. Madge was first into the finish line boom assembly and first to be plucked from the water — a feat missed by her vacationing sponsors. But after hearing a voice mail from Gina Purtell, the sanctuary director, and then receiving a Sunday morning phone call from their neighbor, Peter Holmes, who was reading the newspaper and saw the race results – they realized they had won dinner for two, with transportation and two nights’ accommodations anywhere in the world. And they also knew they had quite a decision to make. Since moving to South Dartmouth in 2004  from Lexington, Mass., where they lived for 37 years and Linda was employed for 17 years as the secretary of the town’s Conservation Commission, the couple discovered Allens Pond and the Duck Derby and Linda has since adopted a flock of five ducks each year  — putting them in her children’s names hoping that they might win the travel opportunity of a lifetime. This year, however, she reserved her flock for herself . “Madge”, named after Linda’s mother in law, an avid bingo player who “never won anything” may have provided the victory but the Gaudets had to decide on the location. “I couldn’t believe it," Ms. Gaudet said. “It really wasn’t an easy decision to make.  We discussed an African safari and European destinations and then considered New Zealand.  Everyone we’ve spoken to about New Zealand, whether it be citizens of the country or Americans who have visited all say the same thing —  that they can’t wait to go back.  We have always wanted to go there but it’s a very long and expensive trip.  Winning the Duck Derby took care of the airfare and a little lodging and we’ll take care of the rest.  We are very, very excited!” Mr. Gaudet has been reading up on the destination and now that they have a plan, they’re headed to the travel agent to explore itineraries and book the trip.  Their intent is to explore New Zealand and then fly over to experience Australia, a trip that will last approximately one month. They anticipate leaving in February or March. Ducks for the 2013 Duck Derby are available to adopt online and the event will be held the weekend of August 17-18 .  For more information, call the Field Station at (508) 636-2437 or visit the Allens Pond website at


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Jim McGaw

A lifelong Portsmouth resident, Jim graduated from Portsmouth High School in 1982 and earned a journalism degree from the University of Rhode Island in 1986. He's worked two different stints at East Bay Newspapers, for a total of 18 years with the company so far. When not running all over town bringing you the news from Portsmouth, Jim listens to lots and lots and lots of music, watches obscure silent films from the '20s and usually has three books going at once. He also loves to cook crazy New Orleans dishes for his wife of 25 years, Michelle, and their two sons, Jake and Max.