Kentucky can keep its derby, and France can have its dinky little bike race. Oakland has something that rivals NASCAR for sweaty-palm-inducing thrills and Vegas-style high stakes: the twelfth annual Rubber Ducky Derby this Saturday. It’s not really a race, but it’s still quite a sight to see some 35,000 tub-toy quackers vying to be plucked from Lake Merritt. It’s a local tradition as popular for its outdoor entertainment as for the organization it benefits. The Children’s Hospital and Research Center is well known as the West Coast’s leading facility for pediatric medicine, and it does not turn anyone away for lack of funds. Hence the necessity of donations and fund-raisers.
This is a worthwhile cause, an opportunity to revisit the enchanting Children’s Fairyland in the heart of downtown Oakland. Bring your kids, a picnic, and a ten spot for every bird you send swimming. If the tides go your way, your lucky foster fowl could be plucked for one of nine fabulous prizes, including a seven-day SunTrips vacation to Hawaii. Registration forms can be found at any Andronico’s market, at Children’s Hospital, or Fairyland, or by visiting www.rubberduckyderby.org The race begins at 4 p.m. For additional info, contact the “Quackline”: 510-869-3770. — Justine Nicole
Sun Cars, Fun Cars
Solar cars are a reality. If you doubt this, come to the plaza of Lawrence Hall of Science in the Berkeley hills this morning (10:30 a.m.) for the Junior Solar Sprint Challenge 2003 . Student teams from four Bay Area middle schools designed and built model cars powered by sunlight, using motors and solar photovoltaic cells provided by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory. In addition to awards for the five fastest cars in the race, prizes will be awarded for automotive design. 510-624-1369. — Kelly Vance
Exhibit focuses on escaped slaves
From the 16th through the 19th century, thousands of African slaves escaped all over the United States, the Caribbean, and Central and South America. For more than 400 years, they created free, autonomous communities in the wilderness. Creativity and Resistance: Maroon Cultures in the Americas , a traveling exhibit from the Smithsonian Institute, focuses on their descendants, specifically the contemporary Maroon peoples of French Guiana, Jamaica, Suriname, and the Seminole community living along the US-Mexico border. See the exhibit through June 22 at the African American Museum and Library (AAMLO), 659 14th St., Oakland. 510-637-0200. — Kelly Vance
Perk up your ears in Alameda
Every Saturday afternoon from 3:30 till 4, you can bring even your littlest pairs of ears to Storytime at the Cove. Crab Cove staff reads and tells stories in the Old Wharf Classroom, or outside if the weather permits. The cove has been designated the first California estuarine marine reserve, with its mud flat and rocky shore area serving as a wildlife habitat, and the stories chosen are specially selected for their relation to creatures that kids could find there, and to teach them about the natural world. Crab Cove is located on Crown Beach, 1252 McKay Ave., in Alameda. The storytimes are scheduled through June, except June 14. Call 510-521-6887 or visit www.ebparks.org for more information about other activities, which include a variety of educational classes, craft sessions, and exploratory treks around the cove, all led by a staff of naturalists. — Stefanie Kalem