Mama Duck sunk but there's another giant duck in town

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What The Duck, 27-foot kite creation of Northeast Philly's Mike Dallmer, 61, and his son, Mike Jr., 39. (Courtesy of Mike Dallmer)

While Tall Ships' Mama Duck was not all she was quacked up to be - her pontoon popped her vinyl skin - she's not the only giant duck in town. In fact, this bird, cheekily named What the Duck, is going 10 years strong.

What the Duck is the wind-powered, 27-foot kite creation of Northeast Philly's Mike Dallmer, 61, and his son, Mike Jr., 39. Between 2005 and 2006, the pair constructed Duck from 300 yards of ripstop nylon - the material that most modern kites are made of - in as many hours. A 200-square-foot pilot kite supports Duck's head, flying on a 1400-pound line.

"We were sitting at the table and deciding what could we build, what haven't we seen," said Dallmer, who is the president of South Jersey Kite Flyers and a member of the American Kitefliers Association. "After the discussion we realized no one had made a rubber duck."

The Dallmers - including Mike's wife Cel, and his daughter Gina - became kite hobbyists 30 years ago. They regularly showcase Duck at kite festivals within 300 miles of Philadelphia. The family drives a trailer filled with 300 to 400 kites of various designs, such as a three-dimensional dragon called Camelot and a 90-foot-long flame ray kite.

The elder Dallmer also makes a range of themed duck banners and flags. There are pirate banners - or, as he says, "duck-aneers" - bride-and-groom ducks, and ducks in sunglasses. Mike Sr. sells the ground décor duckies on his website.

The prodigal Duck has no sign of slowing down. It had its international debut in June at Quebec's Saint-Honoré dans l'Vent Kite Festival. Mike said Duck was the main attraction.

But even the journey to the Canadian show was a thrill.

"It was scary too because we were going through the border and they were looking for who escaped the prison," Mike said. "We had [our] trailer, and there were two [border officials] standing there with guns. It was exciting."

Still, the Shore remains Mike's favorite spot for flying.

Not only is Duck well-loved - Mike said that the high-flying ducky has been valued at $10,000 because of the time and effort that went into its design.

"It's like a piece of art," he said. "It's just something that we like to do."