Flamingos flock to Washougal yards

Class of 2011 uses pink, plastic versions to raise funds for party

By Marissa Harshman, Columbian Health Reporter

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WASHOUGAL — A handful of adrenaline-junkie teens are using the cover of night to disrupt the manicured front lawns of residents.

The high school seniors recently dressed in dark-colored sweatshirts and jackets before hitting the first of three Washougal homes. They lurked in the shadows, avoiding the illuminated areas of the street as they approached the home. Their shoes crunched in the frozen grass as they moved across the yards.

Their work was done in just a few minutes. And once complete, they stepped back to survey their handiwork: 15 bright pink plastic flamingos staked into the frozen ground and a sign reading, “Congratulations! You’ve been flocked!” posted near the curb.

The Washougal teenagers and a their parents have transported the birds throughout the area to raise money for the Washougal High School Class of 2011 graduation night party.

A flocking of a friend or neighbor’s yard can be ordered for a minimum donation of $20. The unsuspecting victim will awaken to a front lawn full of flamingos. The flock will move on within 48 hours. Those who want their front yard to remain free of pink plastic decorations can pay the $5 flock insurance to keep the birds away or from returning for another visit.

The Flock-a-Friend fundraiser began at the end of September with one flock of the pink plastic birds popping up in front yards. Now three flocks rotate throughout Camas and Washougal neighborhoods and occasionally appear in Vancouver. The flocks will fly south Tuesday — as the cold weather makes relocation painful for the human transporters — but will reappear in grassy lawns in the spring.

Parent Julie Kilgore said she likes having the kids involved in the effort. The fundraiser is more fun than working at the concession stands of a sporting event or working a booth during the Portland Marathon — both were other party fundraisers, she said.

On a recent trip, seniors Chloe Kilgore, Kyle Anderson, Matthew Magers and Chandler Audette ventured out in frigid temperatures to move the flocks.

The first house was dark, allowing the students to move the lawn ornaments and leave undetected. The second house, however, had several lights on inside and outside and its occupants were seated near the front window. The teens debated whether they should take the risk of getting caught.

“We can do it … just be ready to run,” Chandler advised.

“OK, they’re out back. Let’s go fast,” Kyle said as the residents left the front room.

The teens dispersed and scattered the plastic birds across the yard. But they weren’t able to flee the area before a woman inside spotted the strangers. She smiled and laughed once she realized what was happening and watched as the teens ran from the house.

Nearly everyone who has been “flocked” by the students was excited to see the birds when they woke up, said Gail Anderson, a parent and fundraiser organizer. Only a few people have asked the committee to remove the birds before the 48 hours are up; one man removed them immediately and placed them in his garage until Anderson could retrieve them.

Several have called Anderson to tell her about their reactions upon spotting the birds in the morning and some have asked if they are now residing in Washougal, Fla.

“One parent was so excited to pass them on, he did it himself last night,” parent Brandy Audette said.

Those who were “flocked” this fall, take heed: The pink birds will be back next year. The parent committee has already found someone to take over the fundraiser for next year’s senior class.

Order forms are available at, http://www.washougal.k12.wa.us/grad-night-flamingo-flock-2010.pdf.

Marissa Harshman: 360-735-4546 or marissa.harshman@columbian.com.