PITTSBURGH -- The first U.S. version of the 40-foot-tall rubber duckie that's made a splash in harbors from Hong Kong to Sao Paulo since 2007 will appear in Pittsburgh on Friday.

Each city builds its own duck from the plans of Dutch artist Florentijn Hofman, and the whole project includes massive pontoons, crews to inflate and deflate the duck, and in this case, alerting organizations such as the Coast Guard and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Hofman has said the duck has "healing properties" because it knows no frontiers, doesn't discriminate and doesn't have a political connotation.

Mariners were alerted to the duck's impending presence, Coast Guard Lt. JG Devin Adams said, because the shipping channel of the Ohio River is one of the nation's busiest commercial waterways, including huge barges carrying coal and other materials.

"Our job at that point is to alert the maritime community ... that there's going to be a duck there," Adams said, stifling a chuckle.

The duck's arrival Friday will kick off the monthlong Pittsburgh International Festival of Firsts, which features theater, dance, music and visual arts from around the world. The duck will be moored downtown until late October.

The project began when Paul Organisak of the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust saw pictures of other duck events and sought Hofman's approval for the first U.S. duckie. But even after agreement was reached, Organisak was in for some surprises about its creation.

"I just thought you blow up the duck and put it in the water," he said, but in fact there's been a secret months-long construction process, including 14,000-pound pontoons.

As word of the duck's arrival spread, boaters asked if they could be in a procession as it travels to its downtown mooring, Organisak said.

The answer was no.

"We really want a buffer around the duck," Organisak said, and the artist doesn't allow corporate sponsors.

Such issues led to one spat.

Joe Wos, the founder of the downtown cartoon museum ToonSeum, celebrated the duck's pending arrival by creating a T-shirt with a duck image and the words "Quack N'At," a play on the popular Pittsburgh slang for "and that."

Wos received a cease-and-desist order from the Cultural Trust.

"It definitely surprised me quite a bit. It was shocking," Wos said. "Rubber ducks have been around for almost 100 years."

Wos says he refused to "quack down" and has kept selling the shirts, which also relate to a pop-up rubber duck exhibit at the ToonSeum.

The Cultural Trust is also selling official duck T-shirts, as well as magnets, buttons and baseball hats.

Wos said he has no hard feelings. "It's a big yellow rubber duck. You've got to have a sense of humor about a thing like this, or you're missing the point."

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Follow Kevin Begos at https://twitter.com/kbegos

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  • FILE - In this file photo from May 2, 2013, a giant yellow duck created by Dutch artist Florentijn Hofman is towed along Hong Kong's Victoria Habour. A similar duck designed by the same artist is scheduled to appear in Pittsburgh, Friday, Sept. 27 and has everyone from the U.S. Coast Guard to area merchants quacking in anticipation. Pittsburgh's duck is the first “Made-in-the-USA” version of the Dutch artists creation that made a splash in harbors from Hong Kong to Sao Paulo since 2007. (AP Photo/Vincent Yu, FILE)

  • FILE - In this file photo from Sept. 19, 2013, thousands of people line Glory Pier in the port of Kaohsiung, Taiwan to see a giant yellow duck designed by artist Florentijn Hofman. A similar duck designed by the same artist is scheduled to appear in Pittsburgh, Friday, Sept. 27 and has everyone from the U.S. Coast Guard to area merchants quacking in anticipation. Pittsburgh's duck is the first “Made-in-the-USA” version of the Dutch artists creation that made a splash in harbors from Hong Kong to Sao Paulo since 2007. (AP Photo/Wally Santana, FILE)

  • A security guard watches as a lake cleaner rows a boat near a yellow rubber duck, created by Dutch artist Florentijn Hofman, at the Summer Palace, once a royal garden in Qing Dynasty (1644–1911), in Beijing Thursday, Sept. 26, 2013. The 18 meters (59 feet) tall inflatable art piece is shown at the palace from Sept. 26 to Oct. 26. (AP Photo/Alexander F. Yuan)

  • A photo-taking tourist, front, casts a shadow as tourists walk past a yellow rubber duck, created by Dutch artist Florentijn Hofman, floating on a lake at the Summer Palace, once a royal garden in Qing Dynasty (1644–1911), in Beijing Thursday, Sept. 26, 2013. The 18 meters (59 feet) tall inflatable art piece is shown at the palace from Sept. 26 to Oct. 26. (AP Photo/Alexander F. Yuan)

  • Visitors take photos in front of a yellow rubber duck created by Dutch artist Florentijn Hofman floating on a lake at the Summer Palace, once a royal garden in Qing Dynasty (1644–1911), in Beijing Thursday, Sept. 26, 2013. The 18 meters (59 feet) tall inflatable art piece is shown at the palace from Sept. 26 to Oct. 26. (AP Photo/Alexander F. Yuan)

  • A photo-taking tourist, front, casts a shadow as tourists walk past a yellow rubber duck, created by Dutch artist Florentijn Hofman, floating on a lake at the Summer Palace, once a royal garden in Qing Dynasty (1644–1911), in Beijing Thursday, Sept. 26, 2013. The 18 meters (59 feet) tall inflatable art piece is shown at the palace from Sept. 26 to Oct. 26. (AP Photo/Alexander F. Yuan)

  • A security worker guards his position in front of a yellow rubber duck, created by Dutch artist Florentijn Hofman, at the Summer Palace, once a royal garden in Qing Dynasty (1644–1911), in Beijing Thursday, Sept. 26, 2013. The 18 meters (59 feet) tall inflatable art piece is shown at the palace from Sept. 26 to Oct. 26. (AP Photo/Alexander F. Yuan)

  • A yellow rubber duck created by Dutch artist Florentijn Hofman floats on a lake at the Summer Palace, once a royal garden in Qing Dynasty (1644–1911), in Beijing Thursday, Sept. 26, 2013. The 18 meters (59 feet) tall inflatable art piece is shown at the palace from Sept. 26 to Oct. 26. (AP Photo/Alexander F. Yuan)

  • A dragon-shaped tourist boat sails near a yellow rubber duck, created by Dutch artist Florentijn Hofman, at the Summer Palace, once a royal garden in Qing Dynasty(1644–1911), in Beijing Thursday, Sept. 26, 2013. The 18 meters (59 feet) tall inflatable art piece is shown at the palace from Sept. 26 to Oct. 26. (AP Photo/Alexander F. Yuan)

  • A giant yellow duck sits at the Glory Pier in the port of Kaohsiung, Taiwan, Thursday, Sept. 19, 2013. Despite the heat, thousands flocked to the port of Kaohsiung, the first leg of the Taiwan tour, to see Dutch artist Florentijn Hofman's famous 18 meter (59 foot) yellow duck, a gigantic version of the iconic bathtub toy used by children around the world. (AP Photo/Wally Santana)

  • A giant yellow duck sits at the Glory Pier in the port of Kaohsiung, Taiwan, Thursday, Sept. 19, 2013. Despite the heat, thousands flocked to the port of Kaohsiung, the first leg of the Taiwan tour, to see Dutch artist Florentijn Hofman's famous 18 meter (59 foot) yellow duck, a gigantic version of the iconic bathtub toy used by children around the world. (AP Photo/Wally Santana)

  • Spectators watch a giant yellow duck arrive at the Glory Pier in the port of Kaohsiung, Taiwan, Thursday, Sept. 19, 2013. Despite the heat, thousands flocked to the port of Kaohsiung, the first leg of the Taiwan tour, to see Dutch artist Florentijn Hofman's famous 18 meter (59 foot) yellow duck, a gigantic version of the iconic bathtub toy used by children around the world. (AP Photo/Wally Santana)

  • Florentijn Hofman

    Dutch artist Florentijn Hofman waves to spectators as he and his giant yellow duck art piece arrive in the port of Kaohsiung, Taiwan, Thursday, Sept. 19, 2013. Kaohsiung is the first leg of the Taiwan tour for Hofman's famous 18 meter (59 foot) yellow duck, a gigantic version of the iconic bathtub toy used by children around the world. (AP Photo/Wally Santana)

  • Thousands of visitors surround a giant yellow duck in the port of Kaohsiung, Taiwan, Thursday, Sept. 19, 2013. Kaohsiung is the first leg of the Taiwan tour for Dutch artist Florentijn Hofman's famous 18 meter (59 foot) yellow duck, a gigantic version of the iconic bathtub toy used by children around the world. (AP Photo/Wally Santana)

  • A school marching band leader waits in the heat to perform for the arrival of a giant yellow duck in the port of Kaohsiung, Taiwan, Thursday, Sept. 19, 2013. Despite the heat, thousands flocked to the port of Kaohsiung, the first leg of the Taiwan tour, to see Dutch artist Florentijn Hofman's famous 18 meter (59 foot) yellow duck, a gigantic version of the iconic bathtub toy used by children around the world. (AP Photo/Wally Santana)

  • A giant yellow duck sits at the Glory Pier in the port of Kaohsiung, Taiwan, Thursday, Sept. 19, 2013. Despite the heat, thousands flocked to the port of Kaohsiung, the first leg of the Taiwan tour, to see Dutch artist Florentijn Hofman's famous 18 meter (59 foot) yellow duck, a gigantic version of the iconic bathtub toy used by children around the world. (AP Photo/Wally Santana)

  • Rubber Duck Florentijn Hofman Hong Kong 2013a

    Description Rubber Duck by Florentijn Hofman in Hong Kong | Source http://www. florentijnhofman. nl | Date 2013-05-02 10:36:48 | Author ...

  • Rubber Duck Florentijn Hofman Hong Kong 2013d

    Description Rubber Duck by Florentijn Hofman in Hong Kong | Source http://www. florentijnhofman. nl | Date May, 2013 | Author Antony Lau, ...

  • A school marching band leader waits in the heat to perform for the arrival of a giant yellow duck in the port of Kaohsiung, Taiwan, Thursday, Sept. 19, 2013. Despite the heat, thousands flocked to the port of Kaohsiung, the first leg of the Taiwan tour, to see Dutch artist Florentijn Hofman's famous 18 meter (59 foot) yellow duck, a gigantic version of the iconic bathtub toy used by children around the world. (AP Photo/Wally Santana)

  • A giant yellow duck sits at the Glory Pier in the port of Kaohsiung, Taiwan, Thursday, Sept. 19, 2013. Despite the heat, thousands flocked to the port of Kaohsiung, the first leg of the Taiwan tour, to see Dutch artist Florentijn Hofman's famous 18 meter (59 foot) yellow duck, a gigantic version of the iconic bathtub toy used by children around the world. (AP Photo/Wally Santana)