A huge rubber duck has ignited a yellow frenzy in Beijing even before its arrival, with dozens of its feathered brethren appearing in a lake that aspires to be its swimming pool.
More than 30 yellow duck dolls have bedecked the wharves and pleasure boats in Shichahai park since Tuesday, as the park vied with other Beijing waters for hosting the oversized bath toy.
"We hope the presence of the 'small yellow ducks' will attract the 'big yellow duck' to swim here," a boat ticket seller in the park told Xinhua.
Created by Dutch artist Florentijn Hofman, the giant rubber duck is expected to visit Beijing in September after making a splash in Hong Kong. During its one-month visit in Victoria Harbor, it attracted 8 million tourists and even triggered widespread whine after it was temporarily deflated for maintenance on May 14.
News of its arrival has elated Beijingers, who jokingly said online that they would welcome the giant fowl with sweet bean sauce and onions, seasonings that go with the famous Peking duck.
On Friday, tourists in the park were seen hugging the smaller duck dolls as they took boat trips around the lake, which boasts a large expanse of lotus and many waterfront pubs.
A mother surnamed Yan was seen negotiating with the park staff whether the ducks could be sold at a price, as her 5-year-old son could not be separated from the stuffed toy lying on a lake-side bench.
"We wish so eagerly for the genuine duck to come. I'm sure it will bring a lot of happiness to the city," Yan said.
Ling Min, a spokeswoman with the park's administration, said they hope the small ducks will spread joy and positive energy "just like the big one has done."
"Living in Beijing is very stressful, so we hope the ducklings will remind people of their childhood and help them relax," Ling said.
To shun accusations of the park making a profit using cheap knock-offs, Ling said they had explained to boaters about the distinction between the smaller ducks and the original design of the giant rubber one.
The inflatable duck has triggered discussions on copycatting after several Chinese cities had reportedly installed copies of the ducky leviathan in often clumsy attempts to mimic the real spectacle.
An American tourist who gave his first name as Kevin said there are differences between intentional duplication and using knock-offs in a celebration to welcome the real thing.
"If I had made the yellow duck and saw people here liked it and did something to prepare before its arrival, I think I would be very happy to come," Kevin said.