News / Toronto

Giant rubber duck all it was ‘quacked up to be,’ after all

The big bird lured record crowds, brought in big profits, says report on waterfront festival. The attraction was a huge summer hit for Toronto.

What the duck?... Yes, it was a true star this summer.

Steve Russell / Torstar News Service

What the duck?... Yes, it was a true star this summer.

The giant rubber duck brought in the big bucks.

Feathers were ruffled at Queen’s Park over a $120,000 government grant that helped land the world’s largest rubber duck for a summer waterfront festival, but a report released Thursday said the attraction brought in record crowds and profits.

The study by Enigma Research found the Redpath Waterfront Festival held in Toronto over the July long weekend, which featured the duck, had a $7.6-million “economic impact,” and attracted 750,000 visitors, a third of them from out of town.

Opposition MPPs had criticized the government for handing out funding to the festival when the duck has no connection to Ontario or Canada’s 150th anniversary. The Canadian Taxpayers Federation also organized a protest to oppose the spending, saying “this giant rubber duck isn’t all it’s quacked up to be.”

The 13,600-kilogram rubber duck, almost 19 metres tall, also made appearances at summer festivals across the province, including Midland, Owen Sound and Sault Ste. Marie.

Tourism Minister Eleanor McMahon said she was pleased to see crowds “flocked” to the festival, helping to create jobs and ended up “leaving a strong economic impact.”

She had previously defended the grant, saying communities like to “find something really fun and sort of quirky” to attract visitors.

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