Saturday, 2:15 PM
By John R. Ellement and Andrew Ryan, Globe Staff
Pack, the bronze duckling snatched from the Public Garden, was found leaning up against a tree early this morning in Beacon Hill, four blocks from its mother and siblings in the Make Way for Ducklings sculpture.
The sculptor, Nancy Schon, posed with the ducklings in 2007, 20 years after her work was installed in the Public Garden. (Globe file photo)
A woman walking with friends at 2:40 a.m. found Pack near the intersection of Brimmer and Mt. Vernon streets. The bird appears to have been sheared off its perch by a tool that made a clean cut across the bottom of its webbed feet.
"The culprit will be arrested," said Mary Hines, a spokeswoman for the Parks Department. "And to the two people that found it: Thank you, thank you, thank, you for doing the right thing."
Pack was discovered by a group of four friends in their 20s who were walking to a convenience store on Charles Street for an early morning snack.
"I used to jump on [Mrs.] Mallard's back when I was a kid and my dad used to take pictures,'' said one member of the group, Robert Blais, 22, of Weymouth, adding, "It was a good feeling to know that my friends and I found this duck. It really does mean a lot … I want kids now to look at that statue like when I was a kid."
The sculptor, Nancy Schon, described herself this morning as "happiest person I know."
"I haven't told Ms. Mallard yet, but I'm sure she'll be delighted that her baby is back," Schon said.
It appears Pack can be reattached to his place seventh in line behind his mother, Hines said. Police initially thought that Schon was going to have to make a new Pack, which would have cost an estimated $8,000 to $10,000.
The vandalism sparked outrage because someone again had the audacity to deface the monument to Robert McCloskey’s timeless children's book, "Make Way for Ducklings." Police did not report any arrests in connection with the theft, which was noticed by a park ranger on Monday morning. It does not appear that Officer Michael from the children's book was involved in the rescue.
"I'm very happy to have him back," Hines said. "Mother's Day is coming. The duck will be back for the parade. I don't know if we can have it reinstalled by the opening of Swan Boats on the 18th, but we certainly hope so."
The eight young fowl have stood in a curving line behind their mother, Mrs. Mallard, since the installation of the sculpture in 1987. City officials have threatened to bring criminal charges of larceny of public art against anyone who stole Pack. This is not the first time one of the ducklings has been taken. In 1987, when the ducks were first placed in the garden, Quack was taken before the sculpture even had time to settle.
Then, in 1988, Mack was stolen. Coincidentally, at around the same time, Quack was returned; an anonymous caller told police they could find the purloined duckling at the Bowdoin Street side of the State House. There, police found Quack in a cardboard box.
In 1992, Quack was taken again, and the theft created such an outcry that buttons reading "Bring Quack Back" were sold to raise money for a replacement. The second Quack was never returned.
In 1999, Jack was taken; a month later it was found in a Boston College library cubicle. No one has ever been caught in any of the thefts, and Jack and the original Quack were the only ones ever returned.