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.

David Beckham with Olympic torch in speedboat on the Thames River
The speedboat was called “Max Power.” (AP Photo / Matthew Lloyd)
A speedboat carrying the Olympic Flame leaves a trail on this slow exposure photograph as fireworks explode above the iconic Tower Bridge over the River Thames in central London, decorated with Olympic rings, during the Opening Ceremony at the 2012 Summer Olympics, Friday, July 27, 2012, in London. (AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda)
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 Diamond Jubilee River Pageant heads along the River Thames to Tower Bridge, London. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday June 3, 2012. See PA story ROYAL Jubilee. Photo credit should read: Owen Humphreys/PA Wire
The manpowered section of the pageant (Owen Humphreys / PA Wire)
Small boats move down the River Thames near to Tower Bridge  during the Queen's Diamond Jubilee Pageant in London Sunday June 3, 2012. More than 1,000 boats will sail down the River Thames on Sunday in a flotilla tribute to Queen Elizabeth II's 60 years on the throne that organizers are calling the biggest pageant on the river for 350 years.  (AP Photo/Dylan Martinez, Pool)
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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