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10th Annual Loon Race Celebrates Summer in the Adirondacks

One-of-a-kind rubber loon race supports AIC education programs

Lila Loon

The Adirondack Interpretive Center (AIC) will celebrate its 10th anniversary under the leadership of the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry (ESF) on Saturday, July 16 with an event focused on one of the most iconic symbols of natural history in the Adirondacks: loons.

The Loon Drive—the only one of its kind—will begin at 1 p.m. when 500 rubber loons—the distinctive black-and-white birds that have become symbolic of the forest preserve's wilderness—drop into the outlet and float 500 yards from the west bridge to the east bridge across the Rich Lake Outlet.

Spectators can watch from the bridges and the south side of the Sucker Brook Trail loop. Cash and other prizes will be awarded to those who sponsored the winning loons. To sponsor a loon for $10, visit the event website to register. Loon jockeys, as sponsors are called, need not be present at the race. Winners will be notified via email.

"Everybody has duck races, we wanted to do something more appropriate for the natural setting we're in," said Paul Hai, Newcomb Campus associate director. "Loons don't occur everywhere, so why not have a race that reflects the wildlife here? It's also a perfect fit to have a fun event that ties to our natural history, our College mission, and our research and education work."

All proceeds from the race support educational programs for the general public and academic and professional groups at the AIC. The AIC is a year-round outdoor education center, drawing on the local landscape for programs on the natural and human history of the Adirondacks.

"Ten years in and we're still the only rubber loon race in the world," said Hai. "We also invented the rubber loon so it's a unique and fun event all around."

CelebriDucks produces the loons, and Hai said they went through multiple iterations to ensure the markings of the iconic Adirondack bird were accurate. The AIC's loon was christened Lila after a young girl who lived in the 1800s on what would become the College's Newcomb Campus. People can also purchase their own Lila the Loon for $20 to keep the whimsy of the Loon Drive with them all year!


The SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry (ESF) is dedicated to the study of the environment, developing renewable technologies, and building a sustainable and resilient future through design, policy, and management of the environment and natural resources. Members of the College community share a passion for protecting the health of the planet and a deep commitment to the rigorous application of science to improve the way humans interact with the world. The College offers academic programs ranging from the associate of applied science to the Doctor of Philosophy. ESF students live, study and do research on the main campus in Syracuse, N.Y., and on 25,000 acres of field stations in a variety of ecosystems across the state.

About the Adirondack Interpretive Center

The Adirondack Interpretive Center (AIC) is part of ESF's Newcomb Campus and serves thousands of visitors, area residents and program participants with outstanding learning opportunities in the heart of the Adirondack Park – New York's unique natural