Dogs hunt new homes at Duck Derby

 Elvis impersonator Brandon Bennett
COURTESY TIRED DOG RESCUE Elvis impersonator Brandon Bennett

With a little luck and a rubber duck, someone will win $1,500 while contributing to a good cause at the Duck Derby from noon to 4 p.m. Saturday at The Dock Bar & Grill in Gulfport.

This inaugural event is hosted by the nonprofit Tired Dog Rescue as a fundraiser and promotion for the adoption of neglected, abused and stray dogs.

A maximum of 5,000 small rubber ducks will be offered for $5 each and then dropped collectively into Gulfport Lake, where they will float to the finish line.

The grand prize winner will receive $1,500. The prizes for runners up are nothing to quack at. Second place will receive $1,000 and third place will receive a prize package valued at $500.

The ducks are up for adoption at www.tireddogrescueduckderby

.com. There are only 5,000 ducks and as of earlier this week, almost half were adopted. If any ducks remain on race day, they will be available for adoption up to one hour prior to the race.

The winners do not have to be present, but with all the entertainment offered, there's plenty of reason to attend.

First, there is man's best friend -- about 50 rescue dogs will be on hand to visit with potential owners. Since 2008, Tired Dog Rescue has worked independently as well as taken endangered dogs from other Coast animal shelters.

Microchipping will be offered at cost, $15, while supplies last.

Donna Maguire, fundraising director with Tired Dog Rescue, said thousands of pets are euthanized every day in America, but Tired Dog Rescue works to save those who have been treated unfairly by the world.

"We usually get the worst of the worst, as far as abuse and neglect. We'll get them medical treatment and put them in a foster home to learn their disposition; then we'll train them and teach them tricks before we adopt them out," she said.

Next, there will be a performance by award-winning Elvis tribute artist Brandon Bennett. Since 2002, Bennet has starred in and produced "Elvis My Way," a national touring production based on Elvis' life and music. Bennett also has starred as Elvis since 2011 in the Tony-award-winning musical "Million Dollar Quartet."

Coast show band Blondefire also will perform. The group, fronted by vocalist Loree Dalgo, plays party rock, including hits from Journey, Led Zeppelin, Carrie Underwood and Bruno Mars.

A silent auction will offer items such as large rubber ducks autographed by "famous musicians" whose identities Maguire said are being kept under wraps. Other auction items of note are a signed Guy Harvey print, tickets to Bellingrath Gardens, and a progressive dinner package for Hard Rock Hotel & Casino.

Throughout the event there will be children's activities, more than 50 arts and crafts vendors, door prizes and $1 raffle tickets.

The duck drop will be at 3 p.m.

Admission is free.

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