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Rex / Tony Kyriacou
Quack quack

It’s been a weird year on the Thames

By Zachary M. Seward in England

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.

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

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.

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

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

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

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.