Lucky ducks ready for annual hunt at Jefferson College
NATCHEZ — For seven years, Historic Jefferson College has entertained the community at night with campfire ghost tales while rubber ducks dressed in their Halloween costumes hid in the dark grass for lucky boys and girls to find.
The adorable tradition continues at 6:30 p.m. Thursday at the college located off of U.S. 61 just north of Natchez, site director Robin Person said.
Thanks to the support of local fans of the tradition, participation is free, and children can keep every duck they find, Person said. Attendees are encouraged to arrive an hour early because parking is limited, she said.
“We started off with about 35 people to about 750 people last year,” she said. “This year we have 2,000 ducks. … We started with 500 ducks (seven years ago) and every year it grows.”
Person, the founder of the event, said she was inspired by the duck collection featured in the window of “Etc.,” a former shop on Main Street.
“A company that sells Easter eggs sent me a fax that said we could have a Halloween hunt with orange and purple colored eggs,” she said. “What is even cooler than that are these ducks, because they come in so many different shapes and occupations.”
Person said the ducks — some dressed as pirates, monsters, unicorns and at least one with two heads — add a fun twist to the centuries-old storytelling tradition.
“The stories are not too scary,” she said. “They’re usually family-friendly with some element of surprise.”
Attendees will hear several ghost stories told by local storytellers Liz and Timothy Blalock, Sandra Measles and Joan McLemore. In the event of inclement weather, the storytelling will be moved indoors, however, the duck hunt will proceed as scheduled with or without rain, Person said.
“If needed, bring boots and an umbrella — but do bring a flashlight and something to sit on,” she said.
Person said the event provides children with the opportunity to visit the oldest college in the state, which was chartered in 1802 and served as a military boys’ prep school — but the Ghost Tales and Duck Hunt were created simply because they are fun, she said.
“It’s a fun community activity,” Person said, “and we like to present the community with fun things to do.”