The Suitcase Lady


May 7, 2013, 11:13 pm

Rubber Duckie WAS the one last week. This particular 54 foot tall rubber duck sailed into Hong Kong harbor to the cheers of hundreds.


Designed by Dutch artist Flortentijn Hofman in 2007, duckie has visited 13 cities in 9 countries. He is rumored to be heading to the U.S.A. as well.

I was not surprised that the duck’s creator was a Dutchman. The Netherlands always ranks high in listings of countries with the happiest people in the world. Rubber Duckies will do that to you.

Mr. Hofman states, “My sculptures cause an uproar, astonishment and put a smile on your face. They give people a break from their daily routines. Passers-by stop in front of them and enter into conversation with other spectators. People are making contact with each other again.”

Rubber Duckies do more than bring people together: they have made a serious contribution to science. In 1992, a shipping container with Chinese plastic bath toys fell off a boat into the North Pacific. 29,000 yellow duckies, blue turtles and green frogs (a.k.a. Friendly Floatees) suddenly found themselves swimming in the world’s biggest bathtub.

Curtis Ebbesmeyer, an American oceanographer, viewed this accident as a serendipitous event for studying ocean currents. Using models that he and his colleagues had developed, Ebbesmeyer soon had people all over the world combing beaches for duckie retrieval and reporting. I show my young students the scientists’ world map of the duckies’ journeys to drive home the fact that our planet has one big ocean, not four separate ones.

I’m sure that almost everyone reading this blog is familiar with Muppet Ernie’s famous and charming song to his Rubber Duckie. But in case you haven’t heard it or are in need of cheering up, click here.

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