Flamingos flock for funds

Mike Linn

Pink flamingos are helping a Portales church group get to Haiti.
They’re not the real flamingos that fish in lagoons in the Caribbean nation, but the fake plastic ones that have been popping up on the lawns of Portales residents recently.
For $10, residents can send about 12 plastic pink flamingos to someone’s yard. The person who receives the flock can then send the flamingos to another yard for the same price.
The money — roughly $900 as of Monday afternoon — goes to support a mission trip to Haiti for 11 members of Central Christian Church in Portales.
“It’s all met with great response,” said Allen Conner, senior minister of Central Christian. “In fact we had one lady call and say could she just pay to keep them in her yard.”
Linda Long is the latest to have her yard littered with the plastic birds, seven adult flamingos and five babies with feathers that rotate in the wind.
Long said she has plans to send the flock to “someone special.”
So far, 79 Portales yards have harbored flamingos.
Sandy Floyd, a member of Central Christian who got the idea from a youth group in Albuquerque, said the reactions from Portales residents have been hysterical.
Floyd said one elderly gentleman thought the flamingos were giant pink flowers, and asked his wife why she would plant them in his front yard.
When the man’s wife went outside and saw the flamingos she erupted in laughter.
Another flamingo-littered yard became quite a treat for a young child, who loved to sit outside to hug and pet the plastic decoys.
The church’s youth group decided to move the flamingos when the child was away in the hopes he wouldn’t get his feelings hurt.
Nobody may be having as much fun with the fund-raiser as the church’s youth group, which has the task of placing the flamingos in people’s yards at night, Conner said.
The youth, who Conner describes as the “stealth at night” crew, place the flamingos, ring the resident’s door bell and then take off.
“The teens are really having a lot of fun with it,” Conner said. “It’s the first time they can (legally) get away with the old thing we used to call ding-dong-ditch.”
The money raised from the flamingos is less than 10 percent what church members have raised for the 12-day Haiti trip, which begins on Dec. 27. But the plastic birds have created a lot of fun, organizers said.
“I think it’s creative,” Conner said. “The nice thing about this is the community got involved and seemed to appreciate the opportunity to get involved.”