By Scott Sullivan
What would have been the Harbor Duck’s 20th summer here offering narrated tours onboard an amphibious World War II vehicle/vessel won’t be.
Owner Brent Birkholz made it official last week that the Duck will not run, swim or fly this summer.
“We regret to share,” Birkholz posted Sunday on the business’ website, harborducks.com, “that Harbor Duck Adventures, Co., a 19-year independently-owned Michigan corporation, will not be operating for the 2019 season in Douglas and Saugatuck.”
The 31-foot-long Duck, which seats about 20 people touring the area on land and by water, turned into a unique institution here.
“The Harbor Duck,” said Birkholz, “was about to enter its 20th year with a perfect safety record — serving tourists, providing seasonal employment and supporting the community tax base.
“However, due to events beyond control in another state, the State of Michigan has added a prohibitive barrier forcing this small local business to go into a ‘stand by’ mode, ceasing to operate, entertain or create jobs for the 2019 season.”
On July 19 last year an amphibious vessel operated by Ride the Ducks in Branson, Mo., sank during high winds associated with severe thunderstorms on Table Rock Lake in the Ozarks with 31 people on board, leaving 17 of them dead. Boat employees have been indicted on federal charges.
“So we pay for them being idiots,” Birkholz said.
“Harbor Duck Adventures, he went on, “has been a whimsical way to visit the area for almost two decades and is determined to resume operations in May 2020.
“The company will miss its wonderful employees, customers, tours through two towns and friends on the harbor,” Birkholz said.