The story behind the ducks that crossed Ballard

We posted a photo from My Ballard reader Jennifer on Thursday that became one of the most-shared stories in our history: Ballardites helping a new family of ducks cross Leary Ave. It turns out that wasn’t the only busy street they crossed, and here’s the story behind the ducks’ harrowing journey.

“That’s me in the orange shirt behind the ducks,” explains Swedish employee John Hatton in a comment he left on the original story. “Mama duck had been nesting right outside our office window at Swedish Ballard Radiation Treatment Center for the past month. That morning, they hatched, and around 1 p.m., they were on the move towards water. Feeling responsible for them, we could not just let them head across 3 busy streets to get there!”

With the help of Dr. Daniel Landis, Hatton said they began escorting the ducks on their journey, enlisting the help of others along the way. “At one point, one of the ducklings fell through a storm drain grate, but fortunately I was able to remove the steel grate and get him out,” Hatton explains. “The guys at Carter Volkswagen helped us get across Leary Way. We picked up some more helpful folks on Ballard Avenue, and after a couple minor detours (into an office, into a bar), it appeared she was headed to cross Shilshole Avenue at Dock street.”

By a sheer stroke of luck, Hatton’s brother owns a business in the ducks’ path — Hatton Marine — so he jumped on the phone to alert him. “I called his cell and had him and his guys meet us and help stop traffic for us on the very busy street. Mother and all twelve ducklings made it safely into the water via the Hatton Marine parking lot.”

“What an adventure!” Hatton exclaims. “I get a kick out of the fact that they started at my office and ended at my brother’s.”

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Lillyne Van Kleef
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Lillyne Van Kleef

Truly appreciated this! In Holland it is said that the ducks belong to the Queen (in my day), so, traffic routinely stopped for duck families to wander across streets to get to the canals. Such fun to watch!

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