A fleet of nearly 800 rubber ducks will set sail as part of the 64th Annual Hesperia Days celebration that begins this weekend.


"Rubber ducks seem to bring out the kid in all of us," said Midge Nicosia,


executive director of the Victor Valley Community Services Council. "This will be the first time that our Great Duck Race fundraiser will be at Hesperia Days."


The "Proud to be American" themed celebration begins Friday evening at Hesperia Lake Park, where equestrians will saddle-up for the Wranglers Championship Gymkhana at 7 p.m.


Previously held at the Val Shearer Equestrian Center at Lime Street Park, the Gymkhana event was moved to the new location last year.


"The nearby river makes it easier for riders to get to Hesperia Lake," said Steve Hamm, supervisor with the Hesperia Recreation and Park District. "We've had a lot of positive feedback since the move."


The popular 5K run, walk and skate will begin at the Percy Bakker Community Center on Saturday morning at 8 a.m.


Registration for the run has increased from a 2008 total of 165 to last year's 1,200 figure, according to Recreation Supervisor Tim Glass.


"I like how the race is open to everyone even for slow people like me," said Felicia Holden, who plans to register for the event. "I can jog while my hubby tags along with the kids in the


double-stroller."


As the last 5K competitors cross the finish line, the Kiwanis Club of Hesperia will assemble nearly 80 participants at Timberlane Avenue as they prepare to parade west down Main Street beginning at 9 a.m.


"I've been working on the parade since 1988 and I just love it," said Becky Otwell, the club's chairwoman. "It's one of the biggest events of the year, and it's exciting to see the entire community come out to watch."


Veteran, business owner and former principal of Joshua Circle Elementary School William "Bill" Alves, 90, will share parade grand marshal duties with San Bernardino County 1st District Supervisor Brad Mitzelfelt.


"They both served in the military, so it fits well with the parade theme," Otwell said. "These men served our country and the community so faithfully."


The park will be a hub of activity on Saturday and Sunday, with a Kid's Fun Zone, bungee games, demonstrations, a climbing wall and a variety of vendors.


Nearly a dozen musical performers will take the stage throughout the day during the American Music Festival, and a


fireworks display will light up the sky after dark on Saturday night.


Nicosia's numbered ducks will make their way down stream through the park on Sunday afternoon at 3 p.m. One lucky duck owner will walk away with the grand prize of $1,000.


The last place duck is worth $250, and a variety of ducks that get stuck along the way will also win a prize, Nicosia said.


Duck tickets will be on sale at the park for $20, and proceeds go toward programs that support low-income seniors.


"Nothing says fun like watching people cheer for their ducks even if some do swim upside down," Nicosia said.


Information on Hesperia Days can be found online at www.HesperiaParks.com or by calling (760) 244-5488.