Farewell, Albany Aqua Ducks

albany aqua duck wide shot

One of the Ducks in Troy during last month's Troy > Albany tour.

Updated at 2:40 pm

The Albany Aqua Ducks announced today that its amphibious duck vehicles have been sold to an out-of-state company.

From the company's website:

"Early this year, we announced that the Ducks and Trolleys were for sale. And, both Duck vehicles have been sold," said Robert Wolfgang, president of the company.
"At the request of the Ducks' purchaser, we are not at liberty to say where the vehicles are going. But, they'll be busy and not in New York State," Wolfgang said.
The three Albany Trolleys, a division of the Aqua Ducks, remain up for sale. "The Trolleys will continue to operate as we continue discussions with potential buyers. "The Trolleys have become a very popular mode of transportation for bridal parties and their guests. All booked charters will be honored," Wolfgang said.

(You might recognize Bob Wolfgang's name. He's the former Albany police chief.)

And from an email sent out to supporters:

Why sell?
It's simply time. The owners of the company long ago retired from their first careers. Now it's time to REALLY retire. We have had a great time serving as Albany's unofficial ambassadors. More than 175,000 people enjoyed the tour. And they came from everywhere -- except Antarctica! WOW!

The last duck tour will be July 15. The company says it's contacting customers who had arranged tours after that date.

After the jump, a quick Q&A with Bob Wolfgang about the sale, and what's next.

It's kind of a bittersweet day for you, huh?

That's an understatement. But it was time. All three owners are retirees from other careers. This is a lifestyle business -- seven days a week . We announced at the beginning of the season that we'd entertain offers on the business and I talked with a few people, but nobody wanted to buy. So we got an offer on the ducks from someone who runs a business down south. It was just finalized today.

What did the Albany Aquaducks do for the city of Albany?

I feel we changed tourism forever. When we started in 2004 there wasn't anything other than the walking tours. We became unofficial ambassadors, making people feel welcome. We kind of made them feel like someone cared about them and we showed them what they could do when they were here.

And the local folks had a chance to get reintroduced to a city they'd livid in all their lives. Many of them didn't know the history or the architecture. So often I'd hear people say, "Oh, I never knew that." This would be from people who spent their entire live s living and work ing in the city. ...

Maybe now people will take a look around and visit things and see some of the things
they'd been meaning to see, and support them before they're gone. Go visit the museums
and learn what the city has to offer. There's so many things.

What's next for you?

We're in negotiations now for the trolleys and the charters... there may be something else down the road. You'll see me around. You never know what we'll come up with next. Eight and a half years ago people laughed when we came up with the idea for the ducks, but 175,000 people later, they're not laughing. There are other ideas. But I'm proud of what we did. We had people coming from all over the world. We made them feel special.
_____

It's sad to see the ducks go. We had a fun time on the AOA Troy > Albany Duck tour last month. And we always smiled seeing the vehicle drive by to the sound of quacking.

Oh, so that explains... We got a lot of requests for another Troy > Albany Tour. And we kept telling people something along the lines of, "Maybe... we'd like to... we'll see if we can work it out..." Now you know why.

(Thanks, everyone who sent this to us.)

The Aqua Ducks have advertised on AOA. And we teamed up for the Troy > Albany tour (obviously).

Comments

noooooooo! How can this be possible?! Aquaducks was on my nephew's to-do list for his vist at the end of July (exactly 10 days after their last run). Aww man.....

Oh man, Aqua Ducks was on the top of my list of things to do that I never got around to. Lesson learned. D'oh!

Personal regret aside I think Aqua Ducks was a great thing for Albany, and I hope something equally brilliant crops up in its place.

This was a wee bit shady. The mayor put a building in the revamped Corning Preserve specifically for the Albany Aquaducks. Would the mayor approve something like this for you or me, or would you have to be a retired chief of police?

"When we started in 2004 there wasn't anything other than the walking tours."

And now we're right back to that. I certainly hope the political and business leaders in our city understand what a loss this is and work toward bringing in something to replace it.

Aww, I always enjoyed seeing the ducks point out the building I live in on their tour. Just the fact that they had a successful tour running for years made Albany seem like a bigger city - a place where tourists might visit (?!) Like Elizabeth said, I hope something in the same vein can eventually replace the Aqua Duck tour!

I brought my students aboard while on a field trip a few years ago! Too bad Albany's illustrious Mayor and his cronies couldn't round up some "favors" from EMPLOYED (read appointed folks) to purchase and USE here in his Capital City! I just saw it PACKED with tourists two weeks ago!
For shame....

Awwwww! I've been wanting to take one of those ever since I moved here seven years ago. Funny thing is I waved to one packed with tourists the day of the Water Rogers show at the TU. I got a wave back too! Too bad I was waving goodbye and didn't know it. So sad. I thought it was a pretty cool Capital Region feature.

Dang! I can't believe how bummed out I am by them leaving. It seems so sudden. I always wanted to go and other things kept getting in the way. I looked when I first heard about it last week... and there were still plenty of tickets left and I was just waiting for my paycheck as I didnt have enough to cover 2 tickets and other things I needed to cover... now I have my check but all the rides are sold out. Dang! I really wish I had the chance to go on a tour and I really wish they were staying in town. Sheesh. Goodbye, AquaDucks, I will really miss seeing you.

I really hope business and political leaders TRULY recognize what a LOSS this is and replace it immediately... basically BRING IT BACK in its IDENTICAL FORM!! Undo this mistake! This is crazy. And too sudden. I really think it was unfair of the owners NOT to give the city a FULL FINAL SEASON and ANNOUNCE THE HECK OUT OF IT ALL SEASON THAT IT WAS THE LAST SEASON!!! Super, super unfair. I understand it was hard work on the owners and losing money etc, but really, did they take any responsibility for that? Advertising, making it affordable, having discount weekdays, ANYTHING???

Also, couldn't the mayor have done something about this? Why didn't someone local buy the business? What were people thinking? I get that maybe the owners couldn't go on themselves, but nobody could buy it, with their great aspirations to a better city?? Really? This thing was well loved, super cute and intriguing, just not very affordable and not very well advertised. Having something like this vs not having it says something about the kind of city we live in and it's depressing to lose it. You can't build on a dream of a greater city if you let pieces of it fall away like this.

This really sucks! Why wasn't more notice given? I realize this isn't a fresh story anymore, but the disappointment is going to last all summer and into next year... until they are brought back. What is up with this? There was really no alternative to this sudden departure?

Really, I agree with Rose, Wendy, and Wendy. WHY couldn't they have stayed in town? I don't get it. The picture on the front page of them being strapped to a flatbed and taken away was just too much.

How hard did the owners try to solve their business problems? Or did they just get tired and stop caring?

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