A Duck Walks into a Bar...

Illustration by Dan Pegoda

There’s a place on San Francisco’s Sutter Street where he regularly appears in full feather. Webbed feet flop forward, waist wobbles, Jack-in-the-box-sized head balances an Oregon beanie.

Yes, him.

The Duck has been a staple of R Bar since the friendly neighborhood watering hole opened in March 2003. Owner Chris Fogarty ’98 acquired the mascot’s uniform from . . . well . . . let’s just say he acquired it—and he and his patrons have been cheering madly for Oregon ever since. On football Saturdays, with six large-screen televisions tuned to the pregame festivities, an R Bar regular cues the Oregon fight song on the jukebox. Former UO cheerleader Ariel Ungerleider ’05 is often on hand to help rally the room’s shoulder-to-shoulder fans for the bar’s adopted home team. Then the big moment, the much-loved Duck makes his grand waddlesome entrance. Cheers and whoops. Many customers reach for their cameras.

“A lot of [patrons] don’t expect it,” says co-owner Tod Alsman. “He’ll come around the corner, and those people are like, ‘What the . . . ?’”

During one game, drink orders were rushing in so fast that R Bar’s de facto manager Will Presley was pressed into service as a backup barkeeper—in the Duck suit. “It was very hard to grab bottles, fruit, and straws with the gloves on,” he says. “But I don’t think the fans cared it was taking me a little longer to mix the drinks—they were excited [that] they came for the mascot.”

Many locals consider the R Bar the world’s second-best spot to watch Ducks football.

“I mean, what bar that is not actually in your college town has the mascot appear and has the fight song on the jukebox?” says Rebecca Nally ’97. “Everyone is so fired up . . . you can hear the crowd roaring from down the street. Other than Autzen, I wouldn’t want to watch a game anywhere else.”

And she’s not alone in that feeling. R Bar management is expecting standing room only for the December 4 Civil War clash.

“Those are the kind of games where you are getting beer and champagne poured all over you and you’re hugging complete strangers,” says hardcore Duck fan Jacquie Bischoff ’99, who works for the San Francisco Business Times. “It’s awesome.”

—By Andrew Pentis