homepage logo

April Fool’s!: Ducks take over town for April Fool’s Day

By Tabitha Johnston - Chronicle Staff | Apr 2, 2021

Rubber ducks collected from the town-wide April Fools’ Day joke sit on a counter in Shepherdstown. Courtesy photo

SHEPHERDSTOWN — Yesterday morning, on April Fools’ Day, Shepherdstown residents woke up to find the downtown area overtaken by hundreds of mini rubber ducks.

According to Shepherdstown resident Jim Gatz, the April Fools’ prank seemed to have been conducted by an anonymous person or group of people.

“There are hundreds of these little ducks. They were put on window sills, on The Wall, on railings, by signs and on the benches. They were spread out along the main street,” Gatz said, mentioning the ducks were centered around the business locations along German Street and Princess Street.

“It was very evident they were there, though not in everybody’s way,” Gatz said. “It was just like, if you can imagine, a flock of ducks coming by and sitting down! That’s what it looked like.”

Gatz said the prank reminded him of Christmas in Shepherdstown’s decorations.

“It was sort of analogous to the holiday time, when ribbons are put on the trees along German Street — it was a theme like that, up and down the street,” Gatz said.

While Gatz acknowledged the ducks were likely used because of their connection to the springtime, he noted that similar ducks have been used at other, non-springtime events. One such event was the Good Shepherd Interfaith Volunteer Caregivers’ annual fundraiser, the Rubber Ducky Classic.

“Duck races have been held on Town Run for many years, and these look a lot like those ducks,” Gatz said. “Although I don’t think [the April Fools’ prank] was trying to take anything away from what that race was.”

For Gatz, the implementation of a community-wide April Fools’ prank was very welcome, in the midst of the COVID-19 Pandemic.

“Although I haven’t lived in Shepherdstown for very long, I’ve never seen any town-wide April Fools’ jokes before,” Gatz said. “We needed this touch of whimsy, because it’s just been a tough year everywhere. People are beginning to feel better, and it’s springtime, and it added a little bit more to peoples’ steps and pace.”

“I think that there is a public art component of this, as well. And that definitely agrees with Shepherdstown’s reputation,” Gatz said. “It adds to the atmosphere of the town, when a spontaneous thing like this happens. I think that’s an important part of of town life. The people who’ve seen this keep saying, ‘Oh! Of course something like that would happen in Shepherdstown!'”

As April Fools’ Day came to a close, a few less ducks could be seen along the street, as they had been picked up by curious passersby. The remaining ducks, Gatz said, he expected would be picked up by tourists over the weekend.