05 March 2016

Ruber Duck Project by Florentijn Hofman

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It may have seemed like Pittsburghers had gone quackers. I doubt that Daffy or Donald marching down Liberty Ave could have drawn a larger crowd that the one that assembled all along the stretch from the 6th St bridge to the West End Bridge, (along the shore and in the water) to welcome the giant Rubber Duck Project to the ’Burgh.

The duck was towed up the Ohio river from the Alcosan facility just east of the McKees Rocks Bridge.

We heard that The Pittsburgh Cultural Trust paid $20,000 to bring this 40x30 foot version of Florentijn Hofman’s super–sized bathtub toy to the city to kick off their International Festival of Firsts. We found it difficult to find the details for this festival as the rest of it seems to have been completely overshadowed by the arrival of the duck.

We initially waited for the duck on the West End Bridge and watched as it slowly passed underneath.

This duck (the first to make an appearance in the US) was greeted with a bridge party and people wearing all sorts of duck–themed gear. In conjunction with the Rubber Duck Project, the Cultural Trust is offering plenty of duck souvenirs, and their attempt to ban others from doing the same has ruffled quite a few feathers.

Any controversy over the Quack N’At gear was completely forgotten or ignored by the crowd though. Some attached a row of the bathtub toys to their bike. Some carried stuffed ducks, some had ducks hats, backpacks, and shirts, and everyone seemed happy to see the big guy (girl?) ...and that is the whole point of it. The artist has been quoted as saying that the duck has healing properties. If making lots of people smile constitutes healing, then mission accomplished.

Crowds waited all along the river and in Point State Park for their first glimpse of the big, inflated, toy.

From the West End Bridge all the way to the bridge party we saw every variety of camera in play. There were lots of news crews, helicopters, tripods and cell phones all pointed at the slow moving, huge, yellow, duck. We don’t know if the duck has a good side or not, but we are sure that it was photographed from every possible angle.

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We saw boats, jet skis, kayaks, and paddle boarders surrounding the duck on it’s journey to the 6th St Bridge.

Oh, but mere mega–pixel, top of the line, latest and greatest iPhone cameras are so passé! We found a very enterprising young man on the North Shore flying a remote controlled drone with a camera. Now that’s creative.

Remote controlled drone with camera observed flying all around the duck.

Plenty of people were quacking greetings as the duck arrived, and we passed this as we were leaving the festivities.

Cruising the river, this contraption (reminiscent of an old Victrola) was broadcasting a quack soundtrack.

This fun piece of public art is only on display here for a few weeks. If you'd like to see it in person, you'll need to do so before 26 Oct 2013.

UPDATE: 4 Oct 2013
The Giant Rubber Duck’s popularity continues a week after arriving. He has been declared a good luck charm for the Pirates, who won their first playoff game in over 20 years while the duck floated in the background.

Hanging with his peeps at Point State Park.

Local cyclists stop to Coffeeneur with the duck.

Local ducks must live in his shadow.

UPDATE March 2014:
Our fine, unfeathered friend will be heading south for a bit. If you missed seeing him when he was anchored at the Point, you have another chance. From 17-26 May 2014 our Giant Rubber Ducky will be hanging out at the Chrysler Museum in Norfolk, Va. Although the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust owns this particular duck, the artist is the one who decides where it will appear again. Florentijn Hofman has granted the Chrysler Museum permission to host the duck for the museum’s re–opening. According to a Trib article by Rachel Weaver, the Cultural Trust will receive some undisclosed compensation for the duck’s appearance there.

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