Flocking to the River

Thirty four species of duck reside in Southern Indiana for a few months out of every year — most of them migrating south when temperatures begin to drop. Mallard, Blue-winged Teal, and American Wigeon are just a few of the species that can be seen floating or flying along the Evansville riverfront in the warmer months. With the help of Florentijn Hofman, these species could be joined by one more — the giant rubber duck.

Hofman recently made headlines around the world with his “Mama Duck,” a massive inflatable “rubber duck” fashioned to float on water. Since his first version debuted in France in 2007, he has designed Mama Ducks in various sizes ranging from 16 to 85 feet tall for cities like Hong Kong, Sydney, and Osaka, Japan.

New York City unveiled its very own Mama Duck by the artist. The 11-ton inflatable bath time toy is docked in Oyster Bay, Long Island, and is the largest in the world.
An unlicensed “off-brand” Mama Duck was spotted — and prematurely deflated — at the Tall Ships Festival in Philadelphia over the summer.

Why can’t the River City be a host for such a bird? Besides offering a good laugh and a prime photo opportunity to a preponderance of locals and tourists, an attraction like Mama Duck has proven to have benefits outside of comedic relief for cities as well.

If the concept of using rubber ducks as an attraction sounds familiar, for 19 years, the Goodwill Family Center hosted Ducks on the Ohio Adopt-A-Duck Race, an annual fundraiser that was last held in 2013. More than 12,000 of these tiny rubber ducks were “adopted” for $5 each to raise money to provide educational programs and a place for homeless families and children to stay in the fundraiser’s final year.

When the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust debuted their duck, the first to appear in the U.S., in 2013, 100,000 people showed up on its first day for a Rubber Duck Bridge Party, and more than a million people flocked to see it during its month-long visit.

Craig Davis, CEO of VisitPittsburgh, says the economic impact of the duck’s 2013 visit was “tens of millions of dollars.” Much of that went to restaurants, hotels, and the historic district.

Evansville could certainly benefit from Mama Duck’s presence, if only for a short time. The attraction could be used in local events like the ShrinersFest, Thunder on the Ohio, and Fourth of July celebrations, or to bring people Downtown during the Ohio River’s slow season. Why shouldn’t Evansville consider making the city a habitat for one of Hofman’s rubber ducks?

For more information about Florentijn Hofman, visit florentijnhofman.nl.

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