In the distance, under the Vincent Thomas Bridge in the Port of LA, visitors Wednesday saw something never seen before on the West Coast.
A giant inflatable rubber duck eased it's way into the harbor, to the amazement of many visitors gearing up for this weekend’s Tall Ship Festival.
“Unbelievable,” said Mary Lou Lopez, a longtime Port of LA employee. “I read San Francisco wanted it badly and said they were better than Los Angeles but they didn't get it.”
The work of a Dutch artist, the duck is six stories tall, the equivalent of the famous faces on Mount Rushmore. It weighs 11 tons.
The duck has been to Asia, Australia and South America, but rarely in the U.S., and that is why it is the headliner for this year's Tall Ships Festival at the port.
It led a dozen domestic and international ships in a parade that kicked off the five-day event. The total expected attendance is a quarter of a million people.
“It's an attraction that introduces people to the Tall Ship Festival,” said Craig Samborski, executive producer of the event. “It's a perfect event to bring mom, dad, the kids, grandma (and) grandpa. The duck is a nice global icon. It's a pleasant thing.”
Organizers said it’s more art work than toy, but it's something many can relate to and even reminds grown ups of the past.
This duck even has a following, and some people arrived at the event dressed in its yellow and red signature colors. It also comes with a biography, which claims it has healing properties.
“I think rubber duckies are a reminder of your childhood and I think especially this week with everything that's going on we need something that's light hearted and fun and this duck brings out the best in people,” Katie Bradshaw said after she took a selfie with it.