ALBANY For nine years, it hasn’t been uncommon to hear an uncoordinated chorus of synthetic quacks take over the streets of downtown Albany. Each guest who climbs aboard an Aqua Duck trolley gets a colorful “Quacker Whistle,” shaped like a duck bill and emitting a distinct squawk. It’s been the attraction’s calling card, almost as notorious as the half on land, half on water tour itself.
But on Sunday, July 15, the yellow ducky-decorated trolleys will take a last spin (and sail) around Albany and the last “Quacker Whistles” will be handed out. Aqua Ducks has been sold.
“We’ve been pretty busy and feel good that we acted as unofficial ambassadors for the city,” said President Bob Wolfgang.
After nine seasons running a “seven days a week, 24 hours a day” business and serving more than 175,000 guests, Wolfgang said the time was “just right” to end things. Though he wanted to keep the trolleys local, things didn’t work out as planned, so they’ll soon travel to an undisclosed location elsewhere in the country.
“I tried to locate someone interested in purchasing and running it here in Albany but was unsuccessful at doing that,” said Wolfgang. “I was approached by someone buying amphibious vehicles for an operation down south, so once that offer came in, we had to move forward.”
Aqua Duck tours was formed by a group of retirees, including Wolfgang, a former Albany chief of police. With 45 minutes spent on land exploring Albany’s historic sites and 45 minutes cruising down the Hudson River, the Aqua Ducks quickly became a favorite field trip among school districts, a popular family activity on weekends and a must-try for out of towners.
A testament to its notoriety, Wolfgang said the trolley has attracted riders from every continent except Antarctica.
“One tour I did … had three different groups from Germany who weren’t there together, out of 44 or 42 people,” said Wolfgang. “We’re very popular in Israel and get written up a lot in Israeli newspapers.”