The resurrection of the Waverly Duck moved closer to reality Wednesday afternoon, when a group of 14 volunteers gathered to paint the recently repaired spray-foam sculpture at a city warehouse at Timber-Linn Memorial Park.
The group, which included Mayor Sharon Konopa and Albany City Councilor Ray Kopczynski, spent the afternoon applying enamel paint to the icon, bringing its wood duck sensibilities back to life. To accomplish this, the volunteers used photos of wood ducks, a color key and an actual mounted wood duck as references.
They worked with the colors copper, kelly green, orange, black, white and blue to paint the markings that drivers will see when they enter the city come late June.
The 500-pound duck greeted drivers rolling into Albany along Pacific Boulevard in the mid-1980s, and was purchased in 1997 by antique shop owner Mike Briggs. In 2007, the city's Parks Department decided to pull it from the water in the wake of concerns over its condition and upkeep.
The idea to resurrect the duck came in January, when Briggs' widow, Pam, asked Mayor Sharon Konopa if the city wanted to take ownership of the icon. But when the City Council washed its hands of the idea, the duck's fate fell to Konopa, Kopczynski and Ed Hodney, the city's acting economic development and urban renewal director.
The trio established a GoFundMe page to raise the $5,000 they estimated they would need to restore and maintain the duck. Last month, they reached that goal, and not a penny more.
"It hit $5,000 and then it absolutely stopped like a stone," said Kopczynski, paint brush in hand as he applied black pain around the duck's collar.
Those following its progress will recall that Professor Waverly Duck, an urban sociologist and an associate professor of sociology at the University of Pittsburgh, became excited when made aware that he and the icon shared a name, so contributed $100 to the cause.
But of the 45 people who contributed, the final chunk of cash — $3,000 — came from local resident Darlene Chambers.
"She was our guardian angel," said Kopczynski.
Konopa said the painting should be finished by the end of the week. Next, Main Auto Body, which performed the body restoration and primer work, will apply two coats of UV protection, creating a weather- and bird-proof patina.
"They say the seagulls will just fall off of it," she said. "Well, they mean the seagull poop."
Konopa plans to organize a community ceremony to relaunch the duck in late June. She hopes Pam Briggs will attend. Also, she said she'd like to welcome Professor Duck. Plans to present him with a symbolic "duck call to the city" have not yet been confirmed.