Flippin the Bird for a Good Cause

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Filed under: High School Pranks

Saranac Lake gets ‘flamingoed’
by Lou Reuter, Enterprise Staff Writer
Adirondack Daily Enterprise
January 19, 2008

image_generatorasp-200.jpgSaranac Lake — Many birds flock to warmer climates when the snow begins to fly. But this winter, a certain avian species has been appearing in yards at homes and businesses around the community.

The birds are plastic pink flamingos, and 40 of them will be sticking around Saranac Lake until the snow melts away. The flamingos are actually being used in a fundraising effort for the Saranac Lake High School Art Club, which has planned a trip to Hollywood, Calif. during the first week of March.

Each year art club members take an annual trip, and art teacher John “Doc” Ward said the pink flamingos were also used by the club to raise money six years ago, the last time time the group headed to California. Ward said 40 students, along with five adults, will travel to Hollywood on what will be a short, but activity-packed four-day adventure.

The club was invited to visit Hollywood by Dick Roberts, a 1985 graduate of Saranac Lake who is a vice president at Sony Entertainment. While in Hollywood, the students will get a behind-the-scenes look at the making of television shows. Ward said the current writers’ strike has left the group’s exact plans up in the air, but one possible activity the students may experience is attending the filming of a Jeopardy or Wheel of Fortune episode.

Where do the flamingos fit in? Basically, if a person wants to “flamingo” a home or business, all they need to do is call the high school and be ready to provide a $10 donation. It can also be done by sending a letter and check to the school with the location of the site to be flamingoed. The students will then take over. Dressed in black, the students will visits the selected locations at night and position 10 flamingos in the snow at each location. That means four sites can be flamingoed each night, as the flock is broken up into four groups of 10.

For people who wake up in the morning or arrive at work to find they’ve been flamingoed, it will cost $10 to discover who ordered the prank. And for those who don’t want to be flamingoed, a $10 insurance donation will do the job. And at one dollar a bird, it’s a pretty good deal.

“It’s a good-natured, fun practical joke,” Ward said. “When we last did this six years ago, the fire department flamingoed the police department but the police department couldn’t return the favor. The firemen bought insurance.”

Ward said the last trip the art club went to Hollywood cost a total of about $30,000, and through numerous fundraising efforts throughout the year, enough money came in to allow each student to make the journey for less than $100.

“When we first began these trips, they were close to home,” Ward said, adding that Montreal, New York City and Boston are places the club has visited. “We started out visiting art museums, but we’ve branched out. The world of art is big. Each year we try to do something different. That way, students who travel with the club more than once aren’t doing the same thing. Over the years, we’ve had seniors in the art club who have taken a trip with the group four times as students.”

On a recent trip, art club students got the opportunity to visit the White House, where they viewed a collection of Norman Rockwell paintings there that are not on display for the public.

Ward said the flamingo fundrasier will continue for as long as the snow stays on the ground. In addition to flamingos, the club comes up with numerous ways to raise money for trips.

photo: Lou Reuter