LODI — Amos Weber has a very important job during Susie the Duck Day in Lodi.
“I have to go pluck ducks,” Amos said.
The 9-year-old puts on his Crocs and wades into the water of Spring Creek to rescue all hundreds of ducks as they arrive at the finish line of the duck race.
“I’m risking my toes to crayfish!” Amos said.
The day is named after a mallard duck who, in 1948, chose to nest in a masonry flower basket in downtown Lodi. Now, any duck that nests there is “Susie,” and the day is full of duck-related fun, with a parade, tractor pull, demonstrations, food and especially the duck race down Spring Creek.
Of course, the ducks are plastic — and part of a fund raiser for the Lodi Chamber of Commerce.
The numbered ducks are dumped into the river at the Veterans Park bridge, where they meander down the creek — under many watchful eyes, and a few cheers when the race is “beak and beak” — through downtown Lodi.
Then they head to Goeres Park and the finish line, where Amos and his dad, David, of Weber’s Bakery in Lodi, have a fence and basket to catch the winners.
A lot is at stake – $1,000 — so keeping an eye on those front-runners is important.
Before the race is the parade, featuring everything from clowns to marching bands, firetrucks, a huge, motorized shopping cart, horses and a cow, and lots of folks in costume.
And candy. Enough candy, in fact, to rival Halloween’s trick-or-treating.
That is likely the favorite part for the Munsons, which include Reese, 5, and Cabe Munson, 4, of Middleton and cousin Jesse Munson, 4, of Lodi; they ended a very profitable parade that included frozen popsicles, hard candy, water and Tootsie Rolls.
It’s worth the trip from Middleton for Vicky Munson, who brought her children and husband to visit family members in Lodi.
“Where else can you see an old lady with a beautiful hat?” Vicky said.
That hat-owner is Vi Bergun, of Madison, who at 82, visited Lodi for the first time and participated in the parade, pulling a wagon of small ducklings and dressed colorfully and formally as “Lady Duckess.” The costume has a duck-and-patriotism theme.
“I’m very patriotic,” Bergun said.
She is spending part of her summer participating in parades in various costumes, never repeating any. She’s been in eight so far.
“Every time, it’s totally different,” Bergun said of her costumes.
She has 350 hats and about 400 costumes at home. As a retired second-grade teacher, she also uses the costumes in her programs at nursing homes, which typically have a historical theme.
“There’s always more to learn,” Bergun said. “I just love it.”
And she likely will return to Lodi for another Susie the Duck Day; she appreciated the friendly people she encountered.
“For a little town, I think it’s beautiful,” Bergun said.