PITTSBURGH (AP) — The first U.S. version of the 40-foot-tall rubber duckie that's made a splash in harbors from Hong Kong to Sao Paulo since 2007 will appear in Pittsburgh on Friday.
Each city builds its own duck from the plans of Dutch artist Florentijn Hofman, and the whole project includes massive pontoons, crews to inflate and deflate the duck, and in this case, alerting organizations such as the Coast Guard and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
Hofman has said the duck has "healing properties" because it knows no frontiers, doesn't discriminate and doesn't have a political connotation.
Mariners were alerted to the duck's impending presence, Coast Guard Lt. JG Devin Adams said, because the shipping channel of the Ohio River is one of the nation's busiest commercial waterways, including huge barges carrying coal and other materials.
"Our job at that point is to alert the maritime community ... that there's going to be a duck there," Adams said, stifling a chuckle.
The duck's arrival Friday will kick off the monthlong Pittsburgh International Festival of Firsts, which features theater, dance, music and visual arts from around the world. The duck will be moored downtown until late October.
The project began when Paul Organisak of the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust saw pictures of other duck events and sought Hofman's approval for the first U.S. duckie. But even after agreement was reached, Organisak was in for some surprises about its creation.