You’ve probably seen the photos: a giant rubber ducky floating in the waters around Tacoma. Well, here’s the deal — and why it’s ruffling feathers in Canada.
It’s been hard to miss.
The massive rubber ducky — purportedly the largest in the world — has been the star of social media in recent days as it floats in the waters surrounding Tacoma.
But what the quack is it doing here?
The 6-story duck, based on similar floating structures by a Dutch artist, is rented out for events around North America. This weekend, Mama Duck, as she’s called, is participating in Tacoma’s Festival of Sail, an event featuring tall-sail ships.
The duck is being billed by organizers as the “greatest spectacle on Tacoma’s Foss Waterway.”
“It’s really a fantastic compliment to the tall ships,” said Craig Samborski, the executive producer of the festival in a statement on its website. “The World’s Largest Rubber Duck inspires us to enjoy the world’s waterfronts and conserve our natural resources for future ducklings.”
But the duck isn’t being accepted so swimmingly elsewhere: Its planned stop in Toronto next month has ruffled some feathers.
“It’s an absurd waste of taxpayers’ dollars,” Canadian politician Rick Nicholls said in Parliament. “It is an absolute cluster duck.”
The News Tribune in Tacoma reported that the controversy began when the Liberal Party government in Ontario granted $120,000 (about $90,000 U.S.) to rent the duck from Samborski, the Festival of Sail organizer.
The Canadians plan to use the duck to celebrate Canada 150 — the country’s 150th anniversary.
That’s when environmentalists and the political opposition party pounced.
More from the Tribune:
The opposition Conservative Party saw a lame duck and took aim.
“When I think of Canada I think of hockey, poutine, maple syrup and our beautiful outdoors,” Nicholls said. “What I don’t think of, Mr. Speaker, are rubber ducks. Never have, never will. That’s not part of Canada.”
Critics bristled at an American duck putting smiles on Canadian faces. Where was the large inflatable loon? they asked.
Environmentalists heaped on.
“Aren’t we supposed to avoid putting plastics into our beautiful freshwater lakes?” asked the Canadian eco website Treehugger, which called the rental “silly and irresponsible.”
Festival of Sail spokesman and duck co-owner Ryan Whaley said the six-story bird was just a political ball to kick around in Canada.
“Most of the feedback outside of the political drama is, ‘Bring it, we want to see it’,” Whaley said.
He was interviewed on a Canadian radio talk show where the host asked her audience, “Are you for the duck, or against it?”
Opinions were split.
But one thing is for sure. Mama Duck will remain a social-media hit throughout the weekend.