FLANDERS, NY (CBSNewYork) – In Flanders, Long Island, a curious roadside attraction is a source of local pride.
“We don’t have a zip code. We don’t have a bank. We don’t have a grocery store. But we do have a big duck,” docent Janice Jay Young said.
Standing 20 feet tall and weighing 20,000 pounds, the Big Duck lives up to its title.
It was built from wood and concrete in 1931 by duck farmer Martin Maurer. The roadside building served both as advertising and as a retail venue for his poultry and eggs amid a duck farming boom—by the early 1960s, Long Island farms were producing roughly 7.5 million ducks annually.
Over time, the duck farms disappeared, but the Big Duck remained, relocating twice before settling to roost on New York State Route 24.
It was adopted by Suffolk County Parks in 1988 and added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1997.
The Big Duck has left an architectural legacy—the term “duck” now refers to any building shaped to resemble its product.
Stepping through the door into the duck’s hollowed breast, you will no longer find ducks and eggs for sale. Instead, you’ll spot duck-related memorabilia and souvenirs plus East End tourist information.
An ardent community has rallied around the Big Duck, elevating it to a Flanders mascot. It is the site for events such as the annual holiday Duck Lighting, where children sing duck-themed carols like “Duck the Halls.” Friends of the Big Duck, a not-for-profit organization “dedicated to preserving the history of this important National Landmark,” counts 462 members on Facebook.
A roadside emblem of nostalgia and kitsch, the Big Duck has the power to lift visitors’ spirits.
“If they’re in a bad mood when they come in, they aren’t when they go out,” Young said.
The Big Duck
Flanders, NY 11901
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