It's just ducky for Pittsburgh

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Just what is so captivating about a 40-foot-tall rubber duck? I lived in Hong Kong, where it made an appearance in the spring so I get asked all the time.

When I moved back to Pittsburgh earlier this summer, it was surreal to see that the duck was making its U.S. debut here. Just a few months ago I stood at the Star Ferry Pier among a crowd of a size I'd never seen, all clamoring for a chance to snap a picture of a giant rubber duck. I found myself there after the front page of the South China Morning Post read "bath time," displaying a large and charming duck I remember from my childhood bathing habits -- a sentiment hundreds of thousands of fellow visitors shared during its time there.

It's a strange thing, that duck. Often the first reaction is to laugh, to sneer, to have a certain disbelief that a giant rubber duck is actually going to sit in the Allegheny, and so on, yet everyone attends. Countless crowds gathered in Hong Kong to see this megalith, this personification of childhood memories or the current indulgences of their children.

As I walked around the pier I saw vendors selling souvenirs, professional photographers making sure a young couple's photo with the duck is worthy of frame, people of all ages marveling and I fully expect to see the same thing here. The Dutch artist's creation is brilliant, silly, tawdry, unusual, a metaphor for this, a scathing criticism of that, inspiration for countless jokes from the KISS Morning Freak Show and a delight to children.

So the answer to the question is simple: The giant rubber duck, this bastion of opaque yellow dye, is all things to all people.

JOHN FRAZIER
Washington, Pa.


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