The world’s largest rubber ducky swam gracefully into Los Angeles harbor at sunrise on Aug. 20 to help promote the annual Tall Ships Festival. The six-story tall iconic duck was created by Dutch artist Florentijin Hofman. The duck has been seen in Asia but the Port of Los Angeles is the first West Coast port to host it.
Festival spokesperson Craig Samborski was shocked at first when he saw the size of the childhood bath toy. “This is 61 feet, 11 tons, and about 85 feet wide and about 110 feet long.”
Mounted on steel, floating pontoon platform, the inflatable duck sculpture will lead the historic tall ships as they cruise into the bay for the five-day annual festival. Onlookers flooded the docks who took selfies with the gigantic duck in the background. “It’s just something different,” said Chris Castillo, whose 11-year-old son, Tyler, was among 50 members of the Dana Middle School leadership class selected to accompany the duck.
“Rubber duck! Rubber duck!” the youngsters chanted as the duck arrived.
The smiling yellow sculpture has been a cultural hit since it debuted as the world's largest rubber duck in 2007. Hofman has created several of them in various sizes and they have been featured in various ports around the world including China, Hong Kong, New Zealand and even Pittsburgh, Pa. (See featured video) The one in Los Angeles is the largest yet.
Everything hasn’t been smooth sailing for the Rubber Duck. Last month the duck touring China was swept away by rains and floods. Another burst during a visit to Taiwan earlier this year leaving a large yellow balloon-like blob in the harbor.
While the duck will probably be the most photographed item at the Tall Ships Festival, the18th century ships are truly something to be both seen and experienced. Tourists will be able to board the ships and explore them, watch the crews performing daily duties, climbing rigging, and try out the hard bunks that sailors used while at sea. Day sails and dockside historic demonstrations are part of the fun along with live music, food and mock battles between ships in the harbor.
To celebrate the duck’s first trip to the area, the U.S.S. Iowa is handing out rubber ducks to kids until the lil' quackers run out.