Pink Plastic Flamingos – a Florida icon

A picture named M2
The other day one of my daughters went to Lowry Park Zoo for the annual Easter Egg Hunt. Honestly I do not know if she found any plastic eggs filled with candy, she did though take some cool photos of the pink flamingos at the zoo.

The flamingo s like Scandinavians, are not native Floridians. The few that can be spotted in the wild, flamingos not Scandinavians, have escaped from zoo or a park and they are not believed to nest in Florida. Many species of exotic animals that are being brought here thrive in the wild, pea fowl for example, the Indian bird used as live lawn ornaments are living in wild colonies here so do pythons and parrots. The Flamingo that gets loose though tends to leave the sunshine state as soon as they can.  There is a considerable amount of wildlife here in Florida. Whether your're here to relax or do some foxy gaming or you're a biologist with a keen interest in ornithological data coming out of of the state, the many species in Florida make for an interesting and unexpected sight. The flamingos that get loose though tend to leave the sunshine state as soon as they can.  The flamingos kept in Zoos and private gardens all over Florida has had their wings clipped and cannot fly, just like their plastic replicas.

The pink plastic flamingo is a Florida icon. Created in 1957 by Don Featherstone, an employee of Union Products, Mass. Union Products sold more than 250 000 pink plastic flamingos a year. The creator of the plastic kitsch icon was awarded the Ig Nobel Prize in 1996 for his best seller.  The immediate success for the pink plastic was the growing interest for Florida in the 1950’s, many Americans wanted a little piece of Florida in their yard and placed a couple of Flamingos on their lawn.  In the 70’s the plastic flamingo was deemed trashy and using them would be proof of utterly bad taste. Today the baby boomers have made the bird retro- cool. In 2006 the bird was near extinction when Union Products decided to stop producing the icon, luckily the mold was bought by a company in New York that will continue to supply the market with pink flamingos.

The legacy of the pink plastic flamingo is stronger than ever Some call the flamingo pop culture and has made it ok for the cultural elite to use this ornament as a kitschy chic home decoration. A new word in the Americana dictionary linked to the bird is “flocked”.  Being flocked means that somebody sneaks into your yard and decorates your lawn with a flock of plastic flamingos, you can be flocked for being liked or disliked.  

If you visit Florida, or live here, do invest in an affordable piece of American pop-culture if you do not find a place for this icon on your own lawn, you can always flock someone and create a new trend in Scandinavia when you return home.

I am proud to confess that after having lived here for one year I bought my first pair of pink plastic flamingos, I did not check though that they were original, now I know to look for Don Featherstones signature on the bird as it is in the original mold.  Anyways, I placed the birds on a little island in the middle of our lake, it looked really cool. However, after some eight months the birds had turned white from the sun so they were retired from duty.  In time for this hot season I need to find a new spot where my pink plastic flamingos will look retro cool and not tacky.

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