Sat, Jul 06, 2013 - Page 5 News List

Keelung’s mayor eyes giant inflatables

TOURIST ATTRACTION:Chang Tong-rong would like artist Florentijn Hofman’s massive yellow duck to visit his city, but in the meantime an inflatable squid has given him ideas

By Lu Hsien-hsiu and Jake Chung  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer

An inflatable sword-tip squid is pictured in Keelung on Tuesday.

Photo: Lu Hsien-hsiu, Taipei Times

Keelung and Greater Kaohsiung are both in hot pursuit of a giant rubber duck, but Keelung Mayor Chang Tong-rong (張通榮) has a backup plan in case the city fails to land the duck — a large rubber squid.

Dutch artist Florentijn Hofman created the giant duck in 2007 and it has since traveled the world, visiting 13 cities, including Amsterdam, Sydney, London, Osaka and, more recently, Hong Kong, where it attracted the attention of many Taiwanese. Its next stop is scheduled to be in the US.

Chang and Keelung City Council Speaker Huang Ching-tai (黃景泰) have made an overture to the duck’s management team for a visit, as have Lai Rui-lung (賴瑞隆), director of the Greater Kaohsiung Government’s Information Bureau, and Hsu Chuan-sheng (許傳勝), head of the city’s Tourism Bureau.

There has been no word on whether either city will be successful, but Chang said earlier this week that the 3m tall inflatable sword-tip squid installed at the Pisha Fishing Harbor (碧砂魚港) has been rather successful in attracting attention to a series of events Keelung is hosting on sword-tip squids.

The city government’s industry development division is looking into whether it would be possible to make a 10m tall inflatable squid, Chang said, adding that such an object in Keelung Harbor would “definitely cause a sensation.”

A giant squid would be no less attractive to tourists or residents than the giant duck, he said.

Cheng Nien-fu (鄭念福), head of the industry development division, said his office has asked the company that made the 3m squid figure if it would be possible to make a larger art piece, either to float in the water or as an inflated balloon.

The company said stability issues and other factors would have to be worked out, Cheng said, adding that the division will consult other experts before releasing its report on the feasibility of such an endeavor.

“If it is a feasible project we would ask the city government to allocate funds for it next year,” Cheng said.

Chang Hsiao-chung (詹孝忠), an instructor in the Chungyu Institute of Technology’s Department of Product Design, said a giant inflatable squid was a good idea, especially if Keelung added lighting and fountain jet effects to increase interaction with the figure.

However, the city government’s plan has drawn criticism from netizens.

Local media quoted netizens as saying that the two figures — the sword-tip squid and the giant rubber duck — meant entirely different things.

The duck was based on nostalgia, the reminiscence of one’s childhood, a netizen was quoted as saying by Yam News, while the sword-tip squid concept is based on commercial profit.

Other netizens said it did not matter whether the rubber duck visited Keelung or the city government commissioned a giant inflatable squid, because “the city government needs to focus first on cityscape planning and cleanliness.”

Additional reporting by Yu Chao-fu

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