The Search for Sgt. Quackers

Nathan Turoff, Features Editor

If you live on-campus this semester, you’ve probably been to the Library. If you’ve been to the library, you’ve probably also seen a certain large floating goldfish in the nearby lake. That is Colonel Crackers, the floating student sculpture that, along with the “Spark Attack” shark sculpture, triumphantly returned to the pond after a four year absence earlier this year. 

Colonel Crackers and Spark Attack were held in storage since Hurricane Irma, photo by Nolan Hammond

However, what many current students and even several years of alumni may not know, Colonel Crackers was not the first inhabitant of that lake. I am of course referring to the large floating waterfowl, Sgt. Quackers.

First constructed out of fiberglass and Styrofoam by sculpture students in 2013, Sgt. Quackers was a staple of the UNF community for several years. He was often lent to local festivals and the Jacksonville Zoo

Sgt. Quackers is prepped for his time at the Zoo, photo by Randy Rataj

The next year, the same team that crafted the large duck crafted a second piece for the One Spark festival. This was the large goldfish named Colonel Crackers, whose name took homonymous inspiration from Sgt. Quackers. 

Colonel Crackers, a giant goldfish cracker sculpture. Photo by Bronwyn Knight.

Eventually however, Sgt. Quackers disappeared from the lake, being seemingly replaced with Colonel Crackers after the conclusion of One Spark. But why? Whatever happened to UNF’s second most-famous duck, and where is he floating now? Over the course of the past month, Spinnaker has been investigating his disappearance.

Spinnaker first reached out to UNF sculpture Professor Jennifer Hager, who was the original professor involved with both projects. She revealed that in 2015, Sgt. Quackers was purchased by a car wash appropriately named Ducky’s Car Wash, located on 9491 Baymeadows Rd, Jacksonville, FL 32256. This car wash sat next to a large pond where Sgt. Quackers was placed to fit the aesthetic of their duck theme.

Remnants of the duck branding at the former Ducky’s Car Wash, Photo by Nathan Turoff

However, in 2017, That Ducky’s Car Wash was bought out by the larger car wash chain Zip’s Car Wash. Spinnaker reached out to Zip’s who revealed that most of the duck branding was removed by the previous owner following the acquisition. This included Sgt. Quackers, who was in very rough shape at the time. 

The pond that was Sgt. Quackers last floating spot, Photo by Nathan Turoff

“Fiberglass occasionally needs to be patched etc., but with proper care and maintenance, it could last indefinitely,” said Hager.

The large duck, which had not been given proper maintenance by Ducky’s Car Wash, was then unfortunately thrown out.

One of the best places to still see Sgt. Quackers is on the mobile App Pokémon Go, which features a Pokéstop featuring him, courtesy of Niantic

This was a rather unfortunate end for UNF’s first floating student sculpture, but Sgt. Quackers lives on in the minds and hearts of the students and staff that helped make him, and saw him on the lake he inhabited as an icon of the University of North Florida.

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