The rubber ducky is all grown up, and boy, has it grown.
It measures 61 feet tall, about the height of a six-story building, and weighs in at 11 tons, equaling roughly 3,000 real ducks.
The World’s Largest Rubber Duck will sail into Duluth this summer as a new — and quacky addition — to the Tall Ships festival, Aug. 18-21.
The festival is a convergence of restorations and replicas of famous schooners, yachts and warships, from a wooden galleon from Spain’s West Indies Fleet to a Norwegian Viking ship. Visitors can climb aboard and in some cases, sail on the vessels. Duluth previously hosted the festival in 2008, 2010 and 2013.
While most of the ships bear historic significance, the giant yellow squeeze toy is no veteran of international trade or naval battle. Instead, “Mama,” as she is called, has been sailing the globe from festival to festival since 2014. According to its website, “The world is her bathtub.”
Craig Samborski, the duck’s owner and the executive producer of Tall Ships Duluth, created the bird with a six-figure price tag on “somewhat of a dare,” he said. He was producing the Tall Ships festival in Los Angeles and looking for something extravagant to draw a crowd.
“I knew it was gong to be either really smart or really dumb, and thank goodness it worked out to be really smart,” said Samborski, a Duluth native.
He has since added a baby duck, 10-foot-tall Timmy, to the fleet.
Over time, the duck’s attention-getting presence has evolved to serve a higher purpose. At festivals, it has taken on causes; conservation in Los Angeles, youth drowning in Long Island.
“She’s a great, iconic symbol, to bring out some simple messages,” Samborski said. “Isn’t it great that our waterfronts are here, we should use them and use them responsibly.”
For more information, visit tallshipsduluth.com.