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Tacoma’s gigantic rubber ducky is ruffling feathers in Canada

We're going to need a bigger tub

The world's largest rubber duck has arrived in Tacoma for the Festival of Sail.
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The world's largest rubber duck has arrived in Tacoma for the Festival of Sail.

The gigantic rubber duck plying the waters of Tacoma for the Festival of Sail is bird non grata in Canada.

In Tacoma, visitors are already snapping selfies in front of what’s billed as the world’s largest rubber duck (it’s actually made out of vinyl) as it floats near the Museum of Glass on the Foss Waterway.

But in Canada, where it’s scheduled to go next, it’s become a political hot potato.

“It’s an absurd waste of taxpayers’ dollars,” Canadian politician Rick Nicholls said in Parliament. “It is an absolute cluster duck.”

The controversy started when the Liberal Party government in Ontario announced that it granted $120,000 (about $90,000 U.S.) to rent the duck from Festival of Sail organizer Craig Samborski.

The idea is to use it to celebrate Canada 150 — the country’s 150th anniversary in late June and early July.

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 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.

If the weather turns bad in Tacoma the duck will be immediately deflated, Whaley said.

A huge duck rolling down the streets of Tacoma and puncturing itself on a light pole would give Tacoma a black eye but it would surely bring delight to Canadian critics.

And sorry kids, you can’t ride the duck. It’s for viewing only.

Craig Sailor: 253-597-8541, @crsailor

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