Published on August 17, 2021

One Lucky Duck Named "Meatballs"

Duck Derby 2019 Grand Prize winner Maureen Jones got to explore Savannah, GA, with her family

In August of 2019, longtime Dartmouth resident Maureen Jones received a call informing her that her duck, Meatballs, had crossed the finish line first and won her the Duck Derby Grand Prize.

"I was floored!" she said. "I enter the Duck Derby every year, but I always just buy one duck for $10. I figured someone else who bought a bunch of entries would win."

Before COVID-19 complicated air travel, the Duck Derby grand prize was dinner for two anywhere in the world including round-trip airfare and two nights of lodging (a $5,000 value). Maureen had named her duck Meatballs in honor of the country she most wanted to visit—Italy.

Maureen Jones son and husband in Savannah, GA, during their Duck Derby Grand Prize trip

She had a blast planning an elaborate getaway for June 2020, but then COVID-19 hit with all of its associated uncertainties. She considered simply postponing the trip, but as months went by and COVID precautions remained, she found her own priorities shifting as well.

With the patience and guidance of David Moniz from the Buckley & Moniz Village Travel agency, Maureen reconsidered her trip. One of the challenges she'd faced during COVID was being unable to see her son Matt who had moved to Colorado after graduating college, but visiting him there seemed too boring for a grand prize getaway. So she and her husband Greg decided to vacation in an American city they’d always wanted to see—Savannah, Georgia—and fly Matt out from Colorado to join them.

Not seeing their son for 14 months was challenging, but having this trip to look forward to in April 2021 made it easier. And Savannah did not disappoint—the trees, gardens, homes, and city squares were all so beautiful. The family enjoyed their celebratory dinner complete with indulgent desserts at Emporium, a wonderful restaurant with a rooftop bar overlooking Savannah.

They stayed outside the city in Bluffton, South Carolina's "Lowcountry" in a cottage overlooking the May River. The air was warm, the breezes were gentle, and the family was able to unwind, relax, and enjoy each other's company. They also managed to get in a good deal of sightseeing, visiting Tybee Island, Bonaventure Cemetery, and even a day trip to Hilton Head where they walked the beach, shopped, and enjoyed lunch at Fishcamp on Broad Creek.

In addition to Mass Audubon (who picked up the airfare and dinner tab for Matt in addition to Maureen and Greg) and Buckley & Moniz Village Travel, Maureen would like to thank Bob and his staff at Austin Limousine. The drivers were personable and fun to chat with and the rides to and from Boston were smooth and pleasantly uneventful.

And her greatest souvenir—duck #914 (a.k.a. Meatballs)—sits on a shelf in Maureen's living room, bringing her good luck and reminding her of treasured family memories.