Tacoma’s Festival of Sail Is Just Ducky

Gary Scheer flashes a smile and a Festival of Sail badge as he passes a security checkpoint and coolly says, “I’m with the duck.”

Scheer is used to giving this explanation at ports of call around North America in places like Philadelphia, Green Bay, and most recently Coos Harbor, Oregon as he escorts the World’s Largest Rubber Duck to various maritime events.

“People ask me what I do for a living and I tell them, ‘well, hold on to your hat because I manage the world’s largest duck,’” Scheer said of his job.

From now until June 18, the massive 61-foot tall, 11-ton waterfowl — known to those close to her as Mama Duck — will be visiting Tacoma as part of The Festival of Sail along the Tacoma Waterway.

Scheer asserts Mama Duck is worth the price of admission because of her strategically placed location near Tacoma’s iconic dome and suspension bridge, coupled with her sheer magnitude which he says he is in awe of. “It never ceases to impress me,” he said. However, despite Scheer’s lovingly-biased assertions, Mama Duck isn’t the only attraction at this year’s festival.

From 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day, festival goers will enjoy touring a massive fleet of more than 20 historic ships — including Bill of Rights, Spike Africa, Virginia V, Schooner Freda B, Hawaiian Chieftain and the official state boat from Grays Harbor Historic Seaport, the Lady Washington.

The four-day celebration will also include live music and entertainment while guests will be able to choose from several local craft beer and food vendors like the Fisher Scone truck. Meanwhile little ones will be entertained by educational programming and exhibits.

Tickets for the event are available online with options for general admission, multi-day admission, boat tours, and day cruises.

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is a staff writer at South Sound magazine. Email her.
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