The ‘Big Duck’ draws big crowds to the Toronto Waterfront Festival

The festival welcomed back the World’s Largest Duck for the second time to Toronto’s waterfront.

world's largest rubber duck and a crowd of people
World's Largest Duck draws in many tourists. (Mackenzie Heidrick/Toronto Observer) 

A giant duck brings in big bucks to the Toronto Waterfront Festival, but this year, it also came with big lineups.

The event, held Sept. 16 and 17 in the parking lot and adjacent park at the foot of Queen’s Quay and Yonge Street, returned to Toronto’s waterfront for the thirteenth time. Visitors from near and far came into the city for the return of the World’s Largest Rubber Duck.

“We try to bring things down to the waterfront that are new and exciting, so when we brought the Duck in 2017, it was the first time she had ever visited Canada,” said Victoria Mahoney, co-producer of the festival.

The Toronto Waterfront Festival has many attendees each year, and some of them are tourists. The first day of the festival, Sept. 16, saw many people visiting the Big Duck. (Mackenzie Heidrick/Toronto Observer)

According to the World’s Largest Rubber Duck’s website, Mama Duck is a 60-foot-tall duck that tours all around the world. She was created to encourage enjoyment of the world’s waterfronts and promote the conservation of natural resources.

The rubber duck was the focal point of the festival, and many people came just to see the world’s largest bath toy.

“It was definitely the rubber duck that motivated us to be here,” said Marie Ramos, a first-time attendee of the festival.

The waterfront festival held on-land and on-water programming which included the World’s Largest Rubber Duck, the Canadian Armed Forces armoured vehicles, and the Royal Canadian Navy HMCS Oriole. It also included multiple food trucks, vendors, photo opportunities, and other interactive activities.

The Royal Canadian Navy attended to the HMCS Oriole and let visitors on the 102-year-old ship at the waterfront festival on Sept. 16. (Mackenzie Heidrick/Toronto Observer)

Mahoney said that the festival is great for Toronto’s economy and the last time it was held in 2017, an Economic Impact Study was conducted by Enigma Research. It found that the economic impact of the event had brought in more than CAD $7 million in tourist spending from people 40 kilometres away or further.

More than 750,000 people attended the three-day celebration that year, according to a news release.

The event had many different food options available. The Ultimate Food Truck which is known for its poutine and array of fried foods was busy with customers, and the spouse of the truck’s owner, Blake Gross, said that his favourite part of the festival was the people.

The Ultimate Food Truck was one of the many diverse food trucks available at the festival Sept. 16 and 17. (Mackenzie Heidrick/Toronto Observer)

The park was packed with attendees, and the lines for attractions were long, but Mahoney and Ramos said the atmosphere was good.

“The crowds are great, there’s a lot of people here, but the one thing I have noticed is everyone seems happier, everybody seems respectful, everybody is smiling,” Mahoney said.

“I’m finding it’s very crowded, too many people in a small space but everybody seems really excited to be here, be out, be doing something on the last weekend of summer. Everyone seems very happy,” Ramos said.

The festival is funded by sponsors and government grants. This year, Clorox was the title sponsor and presented the Duck.

The title sponsor, Clorox, had a booth dedicated to teaching families how to use bleach to clean bath toys. (Mackenzie Heidrick/Toronto Observer)

“We wanted to get involved and speak with consumers about bleach and safety around bleach. We thought that this festival was the perfect opportunity to talk to young families, people who are new to the city, and try and convince them that Clorox is a product to purchase,” said Lauren Mugford, a PR Representative for Clorox. 

A word of advice from Ramos and Mahoney for people attending next year’s festival would be to “pack your patience.”

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Posted: Sep 18 2023 6:15 pm
Filed under: Lifestyle News Things to do