BOSTON – Some migrating ducks can fly up to 800 miles during an eight-hour trip. For the much shorter trek between Salem and Boston Wednesday morning, though, Drake the duck was a passenger, riding in a plastic crate in the back of Sen. Joan Lovely's car and quacking along the way.
Lovely brought Drake, one of her four ducks, to the State House, to promote a diaper drive she is holding with Reps. William "Smitty" Pignatelli of Lenox and Mindy Domb of Amherst in connection with legislation they've filed to create a diaper benefit pilot program.
She came up with the idea of using Drake as a mascot for the effort because he occasionally wears special diapers designed for birds while inside her home.
"I thought it would be kind of unique to have a diapered duck come in and try to promote people to donate diapers to the diaper drive for our families that need them," Lovely said after dressing Drake in the diaper -- a piece of elasticized, red flowered fabric with a bow on top.
Drake started wearing the diapers about a month ago, and doesn't usually require them because he lives in a heated, insulated coop with his fellow ducks: his brother, Snowball, and another pair, Quackers and Cheese.
Lovely, who has her own incubator at home, hatched Drake and Snowball two years ago, and Quackers and Cheese about five months ago.
As Lovely diapered Drake at a conference table while the duck flapped his wings and wriggled, a staffer told her their office was now leading in the diaper drive, with almost 300 donated.
The drive runs through June 16 with drop-off boxes in Lovely, Domb and Pignatelli's offices.
The trio has filed a pair of bills (S 65, H 107) that would establish a Department of Public Health pilot program to help provide diapers to low-income families.
The bills would create "a fund to address diaper insufficiency," with monies distributed to organizations in each region of the state to use for organizing diaper drives, storing and distributing diapers, and marketing the program.