By Marielle Mohs

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – In a unique effort to bring joy to the south Minneapolis neighborhoods that border George Floyd Square, 2,000 rubber ducks were dumped into Minnehaha Creek on Saturday afternoon.

It was the first annual Rubber Duck Race put on by the Field, Regina, and Northrup communities. These are all neighborhoods that border George Floyd Square and felt a responsibility to help out their neighbors heal and recover from a difficult year.

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Francesco Marraffa led the coordination for the event. While he knew this event would bring joy, he also wanted it to help people heal.

“There’s a lot of emotion and a lot of hurt, but by coming together as a community, and the amount of people who showed up, proves there’s a lot of love left in the community,” said Marraffa.

Each rubber duck floating along is sponsored by a neighbor. All the money raised is going back to those who need it most.

“We’re allocating it to the local food shelves, and not only the businesses, but the people who have been affected by the happenings at George Floyd Square,” said Marraffa.

Faith leaders were on hand to pray for the healing process in South Minneapolis to begin. Among those praying with the crowd were Mike Manns and Mark Scannell, with St. Joan of Arc Church and Rev. Kara Root, Pastor at Lake Nokomis Church.

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“We’re in a better position to heal as a community, simply because we’re willing to engage with each other,” said Manns.

Alex Sillerud and his family live nearby and attended the race, running alongside the rubber duck in the lead.

“I don’t want to call it a distraction, but it is good to kind of get out and be around other people and everyone seems to be in good spirits,” said Sillerud.

Allison Werthmann-Radnich and her family were among many who picked up trash along the creek bank, as they watched the ducks float downstream.

“I did not think I’d be so invested in a plastic duck floating down a creek,” said Allison Werthmann-Radnich, “It’s certainly been uplifting to my spirit to be here.”

People who live in the neighborhood volunteered to stand in the creek and collect every rubber duck with nets and buckets. None were left behind.

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Organizers plan to make this event an annual tradition.

Marielle Mohs