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Tall ships? Try tall trees instead!

So I hope I don't come off as rude, but if you're excited about tall ships and the world's largest rubber duck floating into the Duluth harbor this summer, you've got more goofy than five Disneylands combined.

For me, there's zero appeal to standing in an outdoor line for hours and being trampled by sweaty strangers only to end up paying money to some promoter for an up-close look at ... what exactly?

Old boats.

That are kinda tall.

Let's be honest, those ancient freighters appear much more majestic from a vantage point up the hill as they silently sail into town. Plus, that view is free! Double-plus, you're not clogging up Canal Park for our vital tourist trade. Grandma's needs to serve those watered-down drinks to someone. Don't be selfish!

Allow me to suggest a few alternatives for your summer activity list. These are family-friendly options that don't involve lining the pockets of weasels who are obviously overcompensating for something with that huge rubber duck.

Visit a city park. Duluth has lots of them and they need you. Volunteer to help pick up trash, clear brush or spit-shine a rock. Then grab the kids and walk a trail, swing on a swing, laugh, smile and enjoy your family while surrounded by breathtaking natural beauty. The only craning of your neck should be to look at tall trees that didn't just glide into town for a few days. These wooden behemoths are locals. They put down Duluth roots centuries ago.

Check out the library. Any branch would be glad for your company. Borrow a book, then dive into an adventure that's free and doesn't involve standing in a sweltering line and being constantly bumped into by oily strangers from Mahtomedi.

Call your parents. Don't make holidays the only time you say hello to the wonderful people who put up with you for 18-plus years. Do you realize how much they have invested in you and how they'd do it all over again, despite your shortcomings? Try treating that enormous duck as shabbily as you treat your parents and see if that rubber monstrosity still loves you.

Take a road trip. Head to Cloquet, Nashwauk, Ely, Sturgeon Lake ... Heck, I'd even encourage you to picnic in Proctor before I'd agree that Really High Boats and Algae-Covered Abnormally Large Water Fowls are a viable summer entertainment option.

Just in case I haven't been clear: Avoid the Tall Ships Festival this summer. It's not a festival. It's not fun. And if you go, I'll have to mock you if I find out you were there.

Remember: It's hard to feel fingers on your wallet when you're looking straight up.

Brian Matuszak is the founder of Rubber Chicken Theater and invites you to follow him and his theater company on Twitter at, like them on Facebook at Rubber Chicken Theater, and visit their website at He realizes that some of you may enjoy the tall ships and if that’s you, he has a lift bridge he’d like to sell you.

Brian Matuszak

Brian Matuszak is the founder of Rubber Chicken Theater and invites you to follow him and his theater company on Twitter at, like them on Facebook at Rubber Chicken Theater and visit their website at