BELFAST — A gigantic inflatable rubber duck with the word “Joy” has appeared in Belfast Harbor between the Armistice Footbridge and Front Street Shipyard, and no one knows anything about it — though a press release issued several days later may shed some light.

According to several news outlets that have been keeping close watch on the bobbing and tilting icon, it suddenly appeared Saturday, Aug. 14, to the amusement of many onlookers.

“It just emerged,” said Richard Tozier of Palermo, when we spoke to him on the bridge. “I think it has been floating freely for a while.

“It’s fun,” he added. “Belfast could use a little bit of civility” after the Nordic Aquafarms debate.

Several people could be seen on the footbridge Aug. 18, snapping pictures with their cellphones and discussing the origin of the mysterious and joyful sight.

Eight-year-old Addysen Fairbrother of Searsport said, “We all call him king. I think he is showing off,” she said. “He’s a fashionista.”

Michelle Wilbur, walking with Addysen said, “She brought me down to see it.”

Mike and Mary Meyers of Tampa, Florida, with their little dog Henry said they thought the duck was cute. Mike noted, “I much prefer to look at all the unique boats,” rather than the duck. 

Mary said, “It definitely gets your attention.”

Harbormaster Katherine Given told the Bangor Daily News that the 25-foot-tall (7 1/2 meter) duck doesn’t pose a navigational hazard, so there’s no rush to shoo it away.

“Everybody loves it,” Given said. “I have no idea who owns it, but it kind of fits Belfast. A lot of people want to keep it here.”

Colter Thibaudeau, an attendant at the Belfast Harbor Master’s office, said the duck was not moored and he did not know who it belonged to. He added that he had heard the duck had drifted into the bay after breaking free from its anchor in Islesboro. “It just drifted away,” he said.

Recently he saw someone with a dinghy move the duck to its current location by the footbridge.

Ron Jarvella of Belfast wrote to The Republican Journal with his opinion on who might be behind the joyful duck.

The appearance of Joy, the rubber duck in Belfast harbor has all the earmarks of the work of one of our well-known city counselors,” he said. “This man of mystery has done his best over time to put our fair city on the map, from the flying pachyderm atop one of the downtown buildings to leading a roving band down our Main Street wearing outlandish headgear. We can only hope that this is not the last of his contrivances to bring fame and glory to our fair city.”

Belfast City Councilor Mike Hurley, owner of the elephant-topped Colonial Theater, said he wished he could say he was responsible for the duck, but he was not. 

“I know nothing,” he said. “I wish I had.”

A press release issued April 18 by “The Anonymous Benequackers” noted that Joy “was first noticed at the quack of dawn by the Belfast harbormaster, who was stumped by its sudden appearance.” The Benequackers provided the following “eggs-planation”:

“JOY simply is fowl play. In this day (and) age of such bitter divisiveness in our country, we wanted to put forth a reminder of our commonalities instead of our differences. Nothing embodies childhood more than being in a warm bath with your rubber ducky — the joy of not having a care in the world other than having to remember to wash behind our ears!

“So please EnJOY the duck while she is here visiting Belfast and let her put a smile on your face. There’s no specific billing on how long she will be nesting in the harbor before continuing on her flight path to spread joy elsewhere, and then flying south for the winter.”

The Benequackers added:

“We are well aware that September starts duck hunting season in Maine — so she will certainly have flown away long before then!”

A 25-foot-tall inflatable duck is seen in front of the Armistice Footbridge in Belfast Aug. 18. Photo by Fran Gonzalez

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