Saturday, June 27, 2015

We Got Pink Flamingos In The Front Yard

I am sick unto death of the gloomy news lately. So today I've decided to focus on something frivolous. And what could be more frivolous than pink flamingos?

Creator of pink plastic lawn flamingo dies
Don Featherstone was a classically trained painter, a talented sculptor and artist who became famous for creating the pink plastic lawn flamingo - the ultimate piece of American suburban kitsch.

And it didn't bother him a bit.

Featherstone, who died Monday at 79, embraced the fame the invention brought him.

"He was the nicest guy in the world," Nancy Featherstone said. "He didn't have a selfish bone in his body. He was funny and had a wonderful sense of humor and he made me so happy for 40 years."

Featherstone, who studied art at the Worcester Art Museum, created the ornamental flamingo in 1957 for plastics company Union Products Inc., of Leominster, modeling it after photos of the birds he saw in National Geographic.
Pink Flamingos - inspiration

Pink flamingos - artist's conception
Featherstone worked at Union for 43 years, inventing hundreds of products in that time and rising to the position of president before his retirement in 1999.

"People say they're tacky, but all great art began as tacky," Featherstone said in a 1997 interview.

He was forever humble about the flamingo, and in fact, his wife often brought it up in conversations with people they would meet, bringing a sheepish smile from her husband, she said.

The flamingo even made an appearance on the silver screen. A pink flamingo, dubbed Featherstone of course, was a major character in the 2011 animated movie "Gnomeo & Juliet."

"The thing that thrilled him the most was that movie," Nancy Featherstone said.

The flamingo almost met its demise in 2006, when Union went out of business. But the company was eventually bought by Cado Products Inc., which to this day proudly manufactures the ornaments in Fitchburg, retailing for about $14.99 a pair.

"We still sell thousands of them a year," said Bruce Zarozny, president of Cado, noting that the company's packaging refers to them as "The original Featherstone pink flamingo.

He's not sure how many have been sold over the years, but it's in the millions.

"They say there are more plastic Featherstone flamingos in the world than real flamingos," he said.

Interesting pink flamingo fact:
The distinctive pink flamingo color develops thanks to their selective diet, which primarily consists of organisms — such as shrimp and algae — high in pigments called carotenoids.
So why aren't Cajuns pink?

Pink flamingos are everywhere. They're even in the NFL.
Q:  Do you know the difference between a plastic pink flamingo and the Washington Redskins?
A:  One is ugly, stands in the grass, and is totally useless, and the other is a lawn ornament.

There is a long-standing rivalry between pink flamingos and lawn gnomes.

Pink flamingos are considered game animals by some.

They've even inspired a country-western song.

And that's enough frivolity for today...


Randy H said...

Reminds me of great friends that moved to Tampa, she vowed not to have pink flamingos in her yard. she hated them. we sent her a gift as a housewarming, pink flamingos.

Well Seasoned Fool said...

I like that!

Well Seasoned Fool said...

My youngest just bought a house. Inspired by Randy H,I sent them a snarky email asking them if they wanted flamingos as a housewarming gift. My only answer was a photograph of yard gnomes ripping a flamingo apart. I took that as a "no".

CenTexTim said...

Randy - well done!

WSF - I'd love to see that pic.