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It’s been a weird year on the Thames

A giant yellow duck, weighing half a ton, waddled up the River Thames in London on Tuesday—a marketing stunt for lottery firm Jackpotjoy. It was tall enough that the iconic Tower Bridge had to raise its bascules to make way for the duckling.

The bascules of Tower Bridge are raised a thousands times a year but not typically for this kind of rivercraft. Rex / Tony Kyriacou

The duck’s arrival caps a bizarre year for the Thames, which hasn’t seen this much activity since, perhaps, Vikings sailed up the river in 980.

The Thames was a centerpiece of this summer’s London Olympics: David Beckham drove a motorboat with the torch to the opening ceremony.

The speedboat was called “Max Power.” AP Photo / Matthew Lloyd
Beckham leaves a trail. AP Photo / Vadim Ghirda

In June, the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Pageant, marking her 60th year on the throne, included a procession of flotillas, skulls, and other seacraft.

The manpowered section of the pageant Owen Humphreys / PA Wire
A motley crew AP Photo / Dylan Martinez

Also this year, British musician Imogen Heap recorded a song, “You Know Where to Find Me,” in a boat perched on top of Queen Elizabeth Hall, part of an art installation intended to encouraged Londoners to contemplate the Thames. Imogen Heap said the timing of the river’s tides influenced the song’s structure.

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