Reporting by Matt Capaldi and Anika Kini
The world’s largest rubber duck has touched down at Playland. Measuring 61 feet tall, “Mama Duck” settled herself on the soft sand of Playland beach Friday morning for her weekend stay. Joining Mama is her little nine foot tall “Timmy Duck” who nestled himself by the fountain display at the park entrance.
“It’s a big duck,” New Windsor, New York resident and Playland beach goer Miguel Cruz said of Mama Duck. “My two kids like it. On the way out, we’re going to take some pictures with it.”
Duck owner and caretaker Craig Samborski has been crisscrossing the United States and Canada with Mama and a team of self-identified “duck wranglers” since Mama Duck was born in Brunswick, Ohio in 2014. The duck wrangling trio of Samborski, Marc Burr and Jase Wiarda keeps their eyes on Mama Duck and works a merchandise tent where rubber duck fanatics can purchase duck souvenirs. While Wiarda is new to wrangling, Burr has been traveling with Samborski since 2014. When he is not on the road with the world’s largest rubber duck, Burr operates the oldest family run funeral home in Ohio.
Powering up heavy-duty generators, the duck wranglers had Mama Duck fully inflated by 11:30 am Friday morning. She is anchored onto the beach with 16 straps connected to six concrete blocks, each one weighing 3,500 pounds. So Mama is not going to fly off until the wranglers decide her time at Playland is done.
Asked why little nine-foot Timmy was not nestled next to his 61 foot protective Mama and instead a distance away at the park entrance, Samborski was ready with a duck wrangler’s explanation.
“They had a fight. Timmy’s having a timeout down there right now,” said Samborski. “He wanted a bunch of stuff and she wasn’t gonna give it to him. So he threw a tantrum and we sent him down there.”
Other sources told MyRye.com that Timmy was strategically located in the fountain plaza in order to draw attention to the new Play!Verse attraction.
Mama Duck has been highly sought-after due to her photogenic qualities. In the past, she was summoned to participate in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade but was forced to decline the invitation.
“They’ve asked us to be in the parade, but it’s too big,” Samborski said. “We’d either hit buildings or power lines or traffic lights.”
Why Playland Invited Mama Duck
“We’re looking to just kind of add things that you didn’t expect to see [at Playland],” Playland General Manager Jeff Davis said. He explained the senior leadership team spends a lot of time in the off season talking about what would be interesting on the Playland campus.
Mama Duck’s appearance this weekend is a step in “our continuing quest to just add activity to Playland, the whole campus, so it’s more than just the beach and a pool and amusement park,” according to Davis.
“I think it’s very cute,” Victoria Patruno of Queens said. “On Facebook, I saw a post about it, so I told my friends, and that’s why we’re here today.”