UPDATE: Sept. 9, 2019 1:06 p.m.
Artist Ralph Stearns said he hopes to have Wally back in the water at South Weeks Lake Park within two weeks.
Thanks to the Facebook fundraiser, Stearns said he feels he can put it back at its “true home” until a buyer can pay for it unless city officials change their mind.
WICHITA FALLS (KFDX/KJTL) — Community members hope to raise funds for a local artist to allow him to continue his work around Texoma after officials deny his attempt to set a world record.
According to artist Ralph Stearns, Guinness World Records officials notified him on Aug. 12 they could not accept the application for a new category for “Largest Duck Decoy.”
Stearns planned, built and painted the wooden duck in an effort to set the record over the span of four months.
Wally made his debut in Wichita Falls in January 2019, and Stearns planned to ask Wichita Falls city officials to purchase the art piece for the city’s use after setting the record.
However, with the news that Wally didn’t make the cut for the record, Stearns announced Friday that he is selling the duck sculpture that’s found a home in the South Weeks Park pond and Lake Wichita for $8,000 and four months of labor wages.
“I was very disappointed and wanted so badly for Wichita falls to be the home of the Largest Duck Decoy,” Stearns stated in a Facebook post. “I truely wish I could give it to the city, it really belongs on that little pong on swpky, but I’m not financially able. Everybody’s got bills to pay and got to eat, we artists are no different.”
Since the announcement, Texomans created a Facebook fundraiser to pay Stearns for the project “in appreciation for his time and effort to male Wichita Falls the great city it is.”
Six people have donated to the fundraiser since its launch Friday.
Organizers hope to raise $15,000 to pay Stearns for his efforts and contributions to the Texoma community over the years.