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Summit no match for ducky arriving Friday in Pittsburgh

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Wednesday, Sept. 25, 2013, 12:01 a.m.

The duck will trump the diplomats. No contest.

The four-story-tall, three-story-wide rubber duck arriving in Pittsburgh on Friday will shine the brightest international spotlight on Pittsburgh since the G-20 economic summit occurred here in 2009. Expect the fowl time the city is about to experience to be infinitely superior to that foul time of four years ago.

The yellow bath toy on steroids has captivated crowds in cities such as Hong Kong, Sydney and Sao Paulo. The floating art installation makes its American debut along the Allegheny River as part of the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust's Pittsburgh International Festival of Firsts.

There's been a palpable buzz surrounding the duck since its impending appearance was announced in June that wasn't evident when Pittsburgh was the surprise selection to host the G-20. That's understandable. A 40-foot-tall duck piques much more curiosity than a bunch of middle-age guys with translators talking exchange rates and euros.

Aside from attracting global exposure to the city, the two events wouldn't appear to have many similarities. But they have several common elements, and comparing them clearly indicates that the Rubber Duck Project likely will be a considerably more pleasant event than the dour G-20.

• Celebrity masters of ceremony

G-20: President Obama, then the inexperienced host of the zany federal government.

Rubber Duck Project: Mikey and Big Bob, veteran co-hosts of the 96.1 KISS-FM Morning Freak Show.

Advantage: Rubber Duck Project. You can bet Mikey and Big Bob won't be discussing a potential government shutdown at Friday's duck debut.

• Compelling questions

G-20: Could the International Monetary Fund be radically reformed?

Rubber Duck Project: Will the duck be joined in the Allegheny by a proportionately large version of “Sesame Street's” rubber-duck-loving Ernie? Will Ernie be joined by a proportionately large version of his longtime partner, Bert? Will Braddock Mayor John Fetterman, as he has done recently for couples of similar lifestyles, offer to marry them?

Advantage: Rubber Duck Project. Few people could explain what the International Monetary Fund is even if threatened at gunpoint, but everyone realizes that Bert and Ernie should finally formalize their decades-old union and get hitched.

• Unhappy campers

G-20: College-aged vandals hurled rocks and broke windows as they protested the supposed evils of capitalism.

Rubber Duck Project: Cultural Trust officials hurled veiled threats as they protested the supposed evils of people selling duck-related merchandise the Trust didn't authorize.

Advantage: Rubber Duck Project. Thus far, the Trust folks haven't needed to be pepper-sprayed to calm them down.

• Commemorative souvenirs

G-20: An arrest record.

Rubber Duck Project: Duck-emblazoned T-shirts, magnets, buttons, stickers and baseball caps.

Advantage: Rubber Duck Project. Unlike an arrest record, you don't have to explain to prospective employers why you have rubber duck memorabilia.

Eric Heyl is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7857 or

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