By Casey Domski
PITTSBURGH, Pa.–It’s big, it’s yellow, and it’s Pittsburgh’s newest addition. The 40-foot-tall rubber duck made its appearance late last week sailing down the Allegheny River in downtown Pittsburgh. The duck’s arrival kicks off the start of the Pittsburgh International Festival of Firsts. The month-long festival features theater, dance, music and visual arts from around the world.
The giant duck has made appearances across the world from Hong Kong to San Paulo since 2007. Created from the plans of Dutch artist Florentijn Hofman, the project requires the assistance of massive pontoons to transport the duck, and huge crews which inflate and deflate the duck. The massive rubber duck is said to have “healing properties” and people from around the country are flocking to the Allegheny River’s edge to get a glimpse of the new addition.
Pittsburgh is the first U.S. city to ever host one of the massive yellow rubber ducks, and is the result of the hard work of Paul Organisak of the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust. Organisak, who saw pictures of other duck events around the world sought Hofman’s approval for the project and helped make it a reality in Pittsburgh. The duck has attracted boaters from all over, however, officials are asking that there is a constant buffer zone around the duck to prevent any damage. Hofman also does not allow any corporate sponsors to work on the project.
Pittsburgh resident Angie Van Every was one of thousands of people who came out last weekend to see the giant rubber duck.
“It’s really amazing to see,” said Van Every. “It makes you totally forget about all of the stress in your life and issues around the world for a moment, it almost makes you feel like a kid again.”
Van Every also shared what she thinks the duck symbolizes.
“I think the duck symbolizes equality,” said Van Every. “The duck is here as part of the International Festival of Firsts, and I feel like its something people from around the word can come together and relate to.”
Zachary Mullaney, also a Pittsburgh resident, shared his thoughts on the newest Pittsburgh addition.
“Last week it was crazy downtown with the arrival of the duck,” said Mullaney. “I was on my way home from work and people were just stopping their cars in the middle of the road to get a glimpse of the duck.”
Mullaney also commented the duck’s appeal to the city.
“It really fits in well with all the Pittsburgh yellow downtown,” said Mullaney. “I didn’t think I would really care about it when I first heard the duck was coming to Pittsburgh, but even I found myself walking over to see it during my lunch break.”
Pittsburgh resident AJ Reese mentioned how the duck seems to be bringing people from around the area together.
“Everywhere you look someone’s talking about the big yellow duck,” said Reese. “It’s bringing people from all around Pittsburgh together without them even realizing it, which is really remarkable.”
Reese also expressed how wonderful the timing of the ducks arrival is.
“The duck arrived right in time for playoff baseball, which is also a first in quite a while for Pittsburgh,” said Reese. “It’s really a cool thing to have it right next to PNC park with everyone here for the playoffs,” he added. “I will be sad to see it go.”
If you haven’t had a chance to see it yet, the big rubber duck with be splashing around Pittsburgh until late October. The Pittsburgh Cultural Trust will be selling everything from official duck T-shirt, to magnets and ball caps around downtown Pittsburgh.