Home » Here’s The Story Behind The Huge Jeep Duck That Got Blown Across A Highway In A Viral Video

Here’s The Story Behind The Huge Jeep Duck That Got Blown Across A Highway In A Viral Video

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Dearly beloved, we are gathered here today to mourn the loss of a beloved icon, the Mid-Michigan Jeep Duck. It’s become an icon after a post by a TikToker named gresties_gv went viral; the post showed the duck flying across the freeway — a poor, happy duck being dragged by a wind storm that would ultimately take its life as an inflatable duck.

It’s a post that brought the world together — from AccuWeather to Jeep, and whichever one of The Autopian’s fearless leaders just happened to be on social media at the time.

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Have a look:

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You might be noticing a pattern, in gigantic rubber duckies go seemingly hand-in-hand with Jeeps. Hell, Jeep itself even brings a Chungus-sized duck to the Detroit Auto Show over the last couple of years.

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A massive rubber duckie at the outdoor Jeep display for the 2022 NAIAS. Photo: John Gustin

But is this just a coincidence, or is this duck now overlanding in the great beyond? As The Autopian’s resident Michigan sleuther, I was determined not to let my skills developed in a 2014 youth theatre production of Sherlock Holmes go to waste.

The Game Is Afoot

My first clue was the video said this happened in Frankenmuth, Michigan. If you’ve never been, Frankenmuth is a cute little tourist town, about 90 miles north of Detroit by way of I-75. It’s known as “Little Bavaria” for its heavy classical German theming. According to Visit The USA, it was settled by a group of German Lutherans in 1845 and it keeps its traditions going strong. I guess Frankenmuth is to quaint German villages of the 19th century what Mackinac Island is to the Victorian era, just with more beer and spaetzle [Ed Note: The go-to in Frankenmuth is baked chicken; get some if you’re up there! -DT]. But where would this duck be permitted, as it would heavily clash with the town’s enforced architectural theming?

So why did the duck cross the road? Because severe spring storms were moving through, and the duck’s mooring was no match for a system that left thousands in the dark. Sadly, the large yellow bird that belonged to Birch Run’s Thrifty Treasures Antiques did not survive.

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So we’ve found the owners of the viral duck, but what’s the connection with Jeeps? Was it just quack-indence or was there Moab flowing through its veins?

25 Foot Rubber Duckie, You’re The One

According to the antique store’s owner, Shawn Mawhinney, she learned of the power of little rubber duckies by chance.

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Photo: Shawn Mawhinney

We bought my Jeep in 2020,” said Mawhinney. “We then went down to Gatlinburg, Tennessee for a vacation. One thing led to another and we just kept seeing more and more Jeeps while we were there, And I became curious about what the heck was going on. They told me it was an invasion. The following year, we came to Gatlinburg and did the Jeep Invasion. That’s when they had a big 20-foot duck to take pictures in front.”

Mawhinney says this was the first she had heard of Duck, Duck, Jeep. That’s the trend of Jeep fans leaving cute little ducks on people’s Jeeps, as a sign of appreciation for their ride.

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The origination of the gifting of rubber duckies appears to trace back to one Allison Parliament of Alabama. She told the Elmore-Autauga News in 2020, she bought a bag of rubber ducks at a general store while up in Ontario. She was going to leave them around a friend’s house “with little notes to make him laugh.” When she left the store, she spotted a fateful vehicle and “wrote ‘Nice Jeep-Have a Great Day!’ on one of the ducks and left it on the Jeep. ‘The guy had the biggest smile and he just cracked up laughing,’ she said.” Thus, the viral trend was born.

Mawhinney said after attending her second Jeep invasion, she fell in love with rubber ducks, in all shapes and forms. She decided she needed to bring one here to Michigan. After three years of research, and $3,000 later, she was the proud owner of her very own 20-by-25-foot duck. Tragically, the duck’s life was cut short. They put it up for Topless Day, a time for enjoying your Jeep with its soft top down, and everything was going well.

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Two days later, the fateful storm rolled in. “I was in the process of trying to take it down and the wind decided to take it for a drive, or a roll I should say, across to the Putt-Putt golf,” said Mawhinney. She said she had to use a frontloader to move the large, 100 pounds of deflated rubber. It had suffered multiple tears that were too large to patch.

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Thrifty Treasures Antiques & More Owner Shawn Mawhinney lifting up a torn piece of her formerly inflatable rubber duck. Photo: John Gustin

The duck was then left to lie in state to the dumpster, for Jeep fans to pay their respects.

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Photo: John Gustin

As it turns out, this brave duck’s sacrifice is a boon for business. Mawhinney said the video has appeared on the CBC, Fox, local newscasts, and the website for a local newspaper.  She says she has since gotten a lot of likes on her store’s Facebook page and they’re getting plenty of new customers. “People (are) walking in never knew I was here, so he’s doing better now than he was alive.”

As for her Jeep, she’s very thankful it led her on this adventure. Mawhinney said it’s a 2020 Wrangler in a shade of teal known as “Bikini Pearl.” While her father used to work for Ford at a plant near Dearborn, the word “Bronco” is a dirty word in her household. She says her husband is partial to Ford’s competing off-roader, liking the ease of access with taking the top off and other smart features, but for her, she’s Jeep through and through.

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Photo: Shawn Mawhinney

She says she loves the comradery of the community and it’s the perfect vehicle for adventures. Mahinney says they’ve taken her Wrangler out to the west side of the state to the Silver Lake Sand Dunes. Mawhinney found that compared to previous trucks they’ve taken out to the dunes, her Jeep handled it with ease and was more suited for climbing. She also says it’s been great for road trips. In their four years of ownership, they’ve already logged 80,000 miles, and have taken it out as far as California.

Photo: Shawn Mawhinney

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As for large ducks, she’s not done with those either. “I’m not gonna go smaller, I’ll go the same size or bigger.” Ever the businesswoman, Mawhinney has launched a GoFundMe to try and offset some of the costs.

Top Photo: Screenshot via Accuweather/gresties_gv(TikTok)

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Hotdoughnutsnow
Hotdoughnutsnow
15 days ago

I’ve only been “ducked” once, but it was by a sweet little kid, so I had to accept it. I’m mostly anti-social, so no thanks this sort of thing.

Dodsworth
Dodsworth
15 days ago

If a giant moth can fight Godzilla, so can this guy.

James Colangelo
James Colangelo
15 days ago

This whole duck thing is so stupid. Also, please stop waving at me in my Jeep I won’t return the favor I’m just trying to drive.

Hotdoughnutsnow
Hotdoughnutsnow
15 days ago

The year I bought my first Jeep I also bought a motorcycle; everywhere I went, no matter how I went, people were waving at me. It was exhausting.

James Colangelo
James Colangelo
14 days ago

Dude. Yes. I’m always happy to wave at fellow motos though – but damn it’s a lot sometimes.

Beater_civic
Beater_civic
15 days ago

Apologies for my fowl manners, but it’s actually “cameraderie”. It can be tough to teal sometimes, but you wouldn’t want to sound like a quack. Maybe this will ruffle the editors’ feathers and they’ll peep up a bit more. I’m sure they don’t want to incubate careless spelling.

Jake Robb
Jake Robb
9 days ago
Reply to  Beater_civic

It’s actually camaraderie. No cameras to be found within! ????

AssMatt
AssMatt
15 days ago

Crap, my tiktokking brother told me about the Jeep/duck thing a year ago, I guess today he’s slightly more credible. Thanks, Autopian.

Boxing Pistons
Boxing Pistons
15 days ago

The whole duck thing is an example of something cute on a small scale that gets obnoxious when it goes mainstream.

Dave mid-engine
Dave mid-engine
15 days ago
Reply to  Boxing Pistons

What’s obnoxious about it?

JerryLH3
JerryLH3
15 days ago

My guess would be when something goes mainstream it starts to lose its meaning. Do Jeep owners still laugh the way the first person to get ducked did? Do people duck other Jeep owners because they really think it’s a nice ride? Or is it all just for show now and giving and receiving as many ducks as possible?

BentleyBoy
BentleyBoy
15 days ago

Guess it just had a quack up

Joseph Kinney
Joseph Kinney
15 days ago

I guess it’s goose is cooked, eh?

Johnpmac
Johnpmac
15 days ago

I’ve been wanting to try out that ai video thing with a massive duck being dropped on and squishing a jeep to smithereens;-)

Boxing Pistons
Boxing Pistons
15 days ago
Reply to  Johnpmac

There was a giant metal duckie for sale on FB marketplace around my parts some time ago that have me the same idea!

Luxobarge
Luxobarge
15 days ago

The whole Jeep-duckie thing is so delightfuly wholesome. More like this, Universe!

CSRoad
CSRoad
15 days ago

I’m deflated, was looking forward to some kind of misadventure of a top heavy amphibious Jeep in the spirit of Chevrolet’s DUKW. Nope its just Jeep balloonacy for some weekend filler, still sad though. )-:

Framed
Framed
16 days ago

I canardly wait to see the replacement!

TOSSABL
TOSSABL
16 days ago

Lord love a duck!

*illegal in most localities. Besides, with this new Brd Flu goin round, you don’t even want to think of the fallout

Last edited 16 days ago by TOSSABL
AlterId
AlterId
16 days ago

It’s a shame the duck couldn’t recover from the mallardies caused by the storm. May he nest in peace.

Last edited 16 days ago by AlterId
CatMan
CatMan
16 days ago

It was just trying to fly home to mother
https://thebigduck.us/

3WiperB
3WiperB
16 days ago

Duck Tales! Whoohoo!

Canopysaurus
Canopysaurus
16 days ago

Aww, duck down.

Cheap Bastard
Cheap Bastard
16 days ago

Eh, nothing a few rolls of duck tape can’t fix.

Paul E
Paul E
15 days ago
Reply to  Cheap Bastard

Tape these broken wings
And learn to fly again
To Jeep so free….

Mechjaz
Mechjaz
16 days ago

it’s right there in the saying: you have to duck and cover

A. Barth
A. Barth
16 days ago

With that one eye visible as it lies in state, it looks like a peeking duck.

Rad Barchetta
Rad Barchetta
16 days ago

It’s all fup duck.

Hugh Crawford
Hugh Crawford
16 days ago

So I guess it’s a ruptured duck?

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