Duck getting ready to depart
By Rachel Weaver
Published: Friday, Oct. 18, 2013, 12:57 p.m.
A piece of public art the Pittsburgh community has become awfully fond of will leave the Point the night of Oct. 20.
Florentijn Hofman's Rubber Duck will begin its departure after the park closes at 11 p.m.
“In the beginning, we always set Oct. 20 as its date,” said Paul Organisak, Pittsburgh Cultural Trust vice president of programming. “The work of art has always been meant to be a temporary installation. The power of it is the concentrated period of time to bring people, knowing that they must get down to see it (before it goes).”
The city has played host to the 40-foot-tall giant floating rubber duck since Sept. 27, when it made its U.S. debut, thanks to the third International Festival of Firsts. Since then, 'Burghers have flocked to the Point to pose for photos and bask in the joyful atmosphere.
Some aren't ready to bid adieu to the duck. A petition on www.Change.org in support of making it stay put garnered 4,600 signatures by Friday afternoon. It cites “millions in economic benefits for local businesses, buoyed civic pride, smiles galore” and more as reasons for the duck to stay.
Mary Kizina of Carnegie, who came to see the duck twice during its stay, is sad to see it go.
“It's too cute,” she said. “The first time I saw it, I just laughed.”
Carda Horton of Highland Park and Pat Whitmer of Cheswick made sure they to see the duck before its departure.
“We're enthralled — I'd love to see it come back out in the spring,” Horton said.
“I love the outpouring of support,” Organisak said. “It's fascinating to me and fabulous to know this brought such joy to city.”
A welcoming party for the duck attracted 100,000 visitors, according to the Trust. No parting event is planned.
“We always say it came in like a lion, let's let it go out like a lamb,” Organisak said.
The project has drawn the largest audience of any single program the Cultural Trust has presented. The Trust estimates more than 1 million people have come to see the duck, some from as far away as Canada. It has distributed 30,000 pieces of official merchandise, and overall direct spending is estimated in the tens of millions.
“People will not come from the outside to another place to visit unless there is something unique to do, and, of course, the duck provided that,” said Craig Davis, VisitPittsburgh CEO and president.
That interest helped bring visitors to other area attractions. The Fort Pitt Block House credits the duck for a nine-times increase in visitation and four-times increase in souvenir sales this month compared to October 2012.
Emily Weaver, the Fort Pitt Block House site curator, said it's “like the Pittsburgh Three Rivers Regatta every day.”
The Fort Pitt Museum reports a whopping 252-percent increase in attendance since the duck debuted, compared to the same time period in 2012.
Kim Engbers of Studio Florentijn Hofman says the happiness Pittsburghers have shown when visiting the duck is exactly what the artist envisioned when he created it.
“It does this everywhere on the planet, and that makes it all so special,” Engbers said. “We all have the mutual feelings and are connected in that sense.”
Cities that host the duck are often sad to see it go, Engbers says. It's held court in cities such as Hong Kong, Sydney and Sao Paulo.
“People will miss it and treasure their memories, images and ask for it to come back,” she said.
Sunday night, an Alcosan tugboat will haul the duck to an undisclosed location where it will be cleaned, Organisak says. It will be stored in a warehouse on the South Side.
While the Trust has fielded many inquiries from other cities interested in buying or borrowing the duck, its future is yet to be determined, Organisak says.
“Everyone's asking what's next and, honestly, we don't have any plans,” he said. “We're sort of like, ‘Let's get through this and sort of digest what we just experienced.' ”
Contractually, the duck cannot appear in any other city until January. The Trust does have the option to display it again in Pittsburgh in the future.
“I think we'd want some distance in time,” Organisak said. “I think it's really important we let this moment happen. As Florentijn says, it changes the way you see your city.”
Rachel Weaver is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-320-7948 or email@example.com.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Nelson Mandela: The real legacy
- Likely loss of Steelers draft pick looms because of Tomlin misstep
- Penguins’ Orpik taken off ice on stretcher in loss to Bruins
- Rossi: Penguins’ Orpik among select NHLers going without gluten
- Worst of winter storm expected to miss Pittsburgh
- Breaking down the Pirates’ needs entering winter meetings
- State police kill knife-wielding suspect in child abduction from Brentwood
- Four injured in Ambridge bar shooting overnight
- Little change in small-town life
- Donora woman found dead in burning home
- Investors put squeeze on prospective homeowners’ American dreams