Officials are billing a fowl problem at the Liberty Park pond the Great Rubber Duckie Mystery.
Hundreds of yellow rubber ducks were found floating in the downtown park pond Thursday morning. No one knows how they got there.The pond was drained by city parks officials Wednesday for a midsummer cleaning. When the water flowed back in, the ducks came with it, observers say.
"This whole pond was yellow," said 15-year-old Dan Carlson, who had stashed about 35 ducks in his back pack. "That pipe was just pouring out duckies."
Liberty Park concessionaire Marilee Latta said she initially thought the odd ducks were small sunflowers blown into the pond.
"The lake was emptied on Wednesday, and when we came Thursday morning there were all these ducks. So, we have just been letting the kids have them when they go on a paddle boat ride," she said. "I have no idea where they could have come from."
Some suspect the ducks belong to the Make-A-Wish Foundation, which tested the "float-worthiness" and took inventory of the buoyant birds at the Gallivan Center pool Wednesday afternoon. The foundation will use the rubber-billed creatures at the sixth annual Rubber Ducky Derby on Labor Day at Lagoon.
Christine Sharer, executive director of Make-A-Wish, said the ducks are identical to the ones used at the annual derby, but she doesn't know how they could have escaped. "We don't have a clue how they got there. If they are yellow, small and have blue numbers on the bottom, I'm sure they are ours," she said. "Unless someone walked off with the ducks or the pipes are linked, I don't know how they could have gotten there. We didn't put them there. We are going to have to check our inventory."
In the past, water from Red Butte and Parleys Canyon streams fed into the pond. For the past two years, there hasn't been enough water in the streams to go around. The shortage forced city officers to direct Utah Lake water flowing in the Jordan River to the pond.
City parks officials were as perplexed as the Make-A-Wish Foundation.
A representative said Friday afternoon she knew nothing of a planned event involving rubber duckies at Liberty Park, nor did she know why the migration ended at Liberty Park.
The faux ducks were hot commodities at the park Thursday as children waded in the algae-filled pond to nab one of the wayward bathtub toys. Only about 20 rubber ducks were left on the pond Friday afternoon.