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Oh, SmAlbany!

Daily posts and occasional longer essays about politics, culture, and life in the Capital Region...updated M-F, midmorning

"I write this not as a booster of Albany, which I am, nor an apologist for the city, which I sometimes am, but rather as a person whose imagination has become fused with a single place, and in that place finds all the elements that a man ever needs..." -W. Kennedy, from O Albany!

Duck Tours

Oh, that duck tour: Did you know that you can take a Boston-style duck-tour of downtown Albany? A friend of mine told me about this when it started a few years ago, but I haven't bothered to go on it yet. Apparently it takes you through a good amount of the city - the tour is 75-minutes long and it travels much of downtown, goes as far west as Washington Park, and, of course, wades into the Hudson River.

I'm amazed that such a tour has been financially sustainable in Albany, but apparently it has. According to a review in the current Capital Region Living:
Bob Wolfgang, former Chief of Police for the Albany Police Department had seen and read about Duck tours in other cities, such as Boston and Rhode Island. He was convinced that similar tours would be a hit in Albany. They would showcase Albany’s unique historic sites and give people a way to enjoy the Hudson River. Together with partners Lou Renna, (president/CEO of Dutch Apple Cruises) and John Giordano,(president of Plaza Travel/Plaza Meetings in Albany), the trio introduced “Alfalfa A. Duck” to overwhelming success in 2003, with 14,000 passengers riding the Hydra-Terra vehicle. Due to popular demand, a second vehicle, “I. Emma Duck”, was welcomed this year.
As for the demographics of duck tour clients:
About 45-50 percent are from the area. But there are many tourists from South America, Germany, Switzerland and England. There are a lot of conventions and conferences that bring people to the area. Many people also charter the Duck for parties, or other special events. It’s becoming quite a tourist attraction.
I'm not sure what to make of this. On one hand, I'm definitely a fan of people learning about Albany history. On the other hand, I think I've "enjoyed the Hudson River" just plenty through my grade school and prom adventures aboard the Captain J.P. cruise ship.
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At 1:05 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said:

People I know who have taken the tour said the tour guides were prone to giving erroneous "facts," and one constantly made wisecracks about her ex-husband and kids. Not the most illuminating experience, I guess.    

At 2:32 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said:

Each tour guide is free to write his/her own script, and the accuracy can vary widely. The tours come through my neighborhood, and I was appalled in the early days of the Duck by the misinformation the guides were spreading. I called to complain and, to their credit, things seem to have improved. I took the tour once with an out-of-town relative, and our guide encouraged people to correct or add information. In the first five minutes, my wife had to raise her hand and say, "That's not true ..." The guide gave her the mike, and let her correct him.    

At 4:51 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said:

I've taken it and it is quite pleasant. The Duck vehicle also travels through my neighborhood and is always filled with patrons evan at $20.00 a pop for adults. They have gotten a handle on the script misinformation, and are very aimiable about inviting patrons to correct them along the way.    

At 9:01 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said:

The question my discerning eyes ask is how did Bob Wolfgang and co. get to lease primo office space at our new Riverfront for this venture. Is this another case of insider sweetheart deals Albany is so prone to? Was the lease of this space marketed or put out to bid? Just wondering.    

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