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Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Let's go Bucs (and Ducks)!!

Let's Go Bucs!

It's a very exciting time to live in the city of Pittsburgh right now.  For the first time in 21 years, the Pittsburgh Pirates have made the play-offs. Baseball has always been my favorite sport. When I was five years old, I had a little gold Pirates hat. That was during the late 70's and early 80's when the Bucs won multiple championships. When the game was on television, I would put on my little hat and pretend I was a pitcher just like Kent Tekulve. I remember my grandparents sitting outside listening to the games on the radio. I remember standing in line with a gazillion people during Piratefest in the early 90's so I could get Tim Wakefield's autograph (I didn't). I also sadly remember that fateful night in 1992 when, with two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning of Game 7, former Pirate Sid Bream was on second base for the Atlanta Braves when he was batted in and scored the winning run.

That's when I stopped following professional sports.

Now I'm not going to say that I'm ready to don that little gold hat again, but it's awfully nice to see baseball is actually meaningful once again around these parts.

Rubber Duck Bridge Party.

Now onto the duck. This past weekend was a blur of one event after another, including Homecoming and a visit to the pumpkin patch (photos of both to come). Since I spent last night decompressing, and will spend tomorrow night going through my bi-monthly 2.5 hour ordeal of getting my hair done, then followed by curriculum night at Lauren's school on Thursday, I had to make time prior to tonight's big game to write about The Rubber Duck before he's old news (which really, he already is.).

The Rubber Duck Project is a creation of Dutch artist, Florentijn Hofman. I've known about it from photos that I've seen of the Rubber Duck in Hong Kong. When I heard that the Cultural Trust was bringing the Rubber Duck Project to Pittsburgh as part of the International Festival of Firsts, I was beside myself. It was a photographer's dream come true!

Our duck is the first to be displayed in the United States. It's about 5 stories high, quite a bit smaller than the 18 story ducks displayed in other cities, but our duck had to be small enough to fit under the city's many bridges. His purpose is simple - to make people happy. There's no heavy, artistic message here. Everyone can relate to a rubber duck, no matter your race, creed, color, sex, national origin, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, disability, marital status, socioeconomic status, or political affiliation (whew!).

So when the Cultural District announced they were throwing a party to herald the duck's arrival on September 27th, I had to be there and convinced Mel C. that she had to be there too!

The duck was going to sail down the Allegheny River from the West End and arrive at the Roberto Clemente bridge around 6 o'clock. Mel C., Lauren and I arrived early so that we could claim our spot on the North Shore right in front of PNC Park. Mark came straight from work and found us shortly thereafter. Soon, people packed behind us along the river walk, so much that I thought for certain one of us was going for a unplanned swim.

After about an hour of waiting, this little golden head could finally be seen on the horizon.

Making his grand entrance.

He was absolutely adorable.

And very, very slow.

Always keep your beak to the sun.

Eventually, he did make his way closer, so we could see him in all his glory.

Just another day on the Allegheny River.

The giant rubber duck certainly didn't intimidate anyone from enjoying boating or water sports.

 When you're the only five story duck in the city, you've got to own it.

At one point, they turned him around so we could see his cute tail feathers.

Wings over Pittsburgh.

Finally, he settled in beside the bridge so he could enjoy the party in his honor. By this point, Lauren was all ducked out, so Mark took her home while Mel C and I stayed behind to check out the scene. As it happened, the press tent was nearby.

The man behind the duck.

Meet the man behind the duck. The very fine man behind the duck. As we stood there ogling Florentijn Hofman, his handler from the Cultural Trust told us, "He's really nice too...and married."

Me and the Duck.

Of course, we had to get pics of ourselves with the duck. Me...

Mel C. and the Duck.

and Mel C.

I see you.

Time to join the rest of the city on the bridge.


 Bridge Party.

It was absolutely nuts up there. There were around 70 food and craft vendors on the bridge peddling their wares. Not that we got anywhere near them.

Burger bandits.

But we did get near these guys - lol. They were happy to pose when I asked if I could take their photo. Considering they were laboring in front of a hot, greasy grill while the rest of the city partied with a giant rubber duck, they were really good sports.

After getting a few last glimpses, it was time to duck out.

View from the Roberto Clemente Bridge.

 Ducks and Bucs at PNC Park.

For duck's sake, I hope the Bucs win tonight...

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