"Once upon a time, in the small and faraway republic of Lithuania . . ." begins the mythical story of Stumti the Stork, and the Soda Quackers' 2016 kinetic sculpture entry. Building on the framework of Anuli's success, Stumti was further animated with wings that widened and flapped, and a beak carrying a baby that, well, now and then, needed to answer the call of nature. Stumti was piloted on its journey by some very grownup babies that so impressed the judges, the Soda Quackers team won the award for best costumes.
After a rather successful first run in the race, the Soda Quackers embarked on a second creation, this time a 16' long whale with awesome teeth and a water spout. Named Wynona, she completed the 2014 race with much fun and fanfare, though no award this year.
The spark to build came from a young man named Devin, eldest son of Soda Quackers co-founding member Michael Bird, when he built a 3' high kinetic "Jack the Smith", placed upon the roof of his family's mill. It was designed to ring a bell at noon each day. This was followed by Michael and good friend Mark Nicholich building a "kinetic moose" for Michaels' younger son's restaurant, Café Blue Moose. To further the interest and subsequent occupation of building kinetic sculptures, Michael's wife Lauren discovered an exhibit of kinetic sculptures at the American Visionary Art Museum (AVAM) in Baltimore and encouraged Michael and Mark to enter the Kinetic Sculpture Race.
In 2013, Michael and Mark gathered six friends together to design and build their first kinetic sculpture race entry, a colorful 13' high duck named Desdemona, after the character in Shakespeare's play Othello, who is described as a "lady of spirit and intelligence." She was largely made out of soda bottles, hence the name Soda Quackers. Desdemona finished the race, winning the prize for the first to break down.
In 2015, the Soda Quackers built their most challenging sculpture yet: Anuli, The Articulated Giraffe, was named after a young female giraffe in the Baltimore Zoo. Adorned in a colorful body, she was a great success. Her neck could move from the ground to 20' in the air, she blinked and rolled her eyes, and her mouth opened and closed, with a tongue that furled and unfurled. Her horns provided discordant loud notes while her tailend sported soap bubbles. She was cheered by the crowds as she completed the entire course. Anuli was awarded the coveted 2015 Engineering prize, surrounded by a proud Soda Quackers team.