— Marian Woods
Poet & Author
Whether the Cleveland and Bradley County community is adequately prepared for the inevitable return of the “Flamingo Flock” is no longer at debate.
The point is it is here. It is real. And it is likely coming to a neighborhood near you sometime over the next two weeks.
To quote a time-tested adage, “Ready or not, here they ... flock.”
The wise will steady themselves for the voluminous pink brigade which mobilized within minutes last Wednesday after our newspaper broke the alarming story. Insiders close to the flocking phenomenon, we’ll call our source “Deep Flock,” told us once the scoop was posted to our website and the print editions hit the streets that at least a dozen orders for pastel figurines came in within the first two hours.
Folks, that’s some serious flocking.
And it is just the beginning. Phone bank volunteers are seeing so many requests for these birds of prey they’re getting pink-eye.
For those few not in the know, here’s the skinny on these skinny pink fowl. They are a spinoff to “Volley for a Cure,” an annual campaign brainstormed by Coach Andrea Hudson and members of the Lee University Lady Flames Volleyball team to promote community support of Breast Cancer Awareness Month. It is also a fundraiser that helps to provide scholarships through the MaryEllen Locher Scholarship Fund for secondary education to children who have lost a parent to breast cancer or their parent is a breast cancer survivor.
The “Volley for a Cure” initiative leads up to the Breast Cancer Survivors Luncheon which this year is set for Thursday, Nov. 3, in the Recreation Center on the Lee University campus. Last year’s speaker was the inspiring Barbara Dooley. This year’s keynote will be delivered by popular comedian Karen Mills, a Bradley County native and former Bradley Central High School basketball superstar and University of Tennessee at Chattanooga All-American.
“Volley” also includes several pink-themed activities on the Lee campus during Homecoming Weekend, one of which is a Lady Flames volleyball match painted in pink.
Good stuff. Here’s more lowdown on the birds.
Entering the picture for the second year is Dr. Michael Hoops and his ladies at The Plastic Surgery Clinic in Cleveland who drummed up the idea of “Flamingo Flock.” Last year’s inaugural flocking was an immediate hit among Cleveland friends and loved ones who paid a fee to have an army of pink flamingo figurines placed in the front lawn of another friend or loved one. Obviously, this is done under a tight veil of secrecy and the cloak of darkness by a group of volunteers called “flockers.”
After the ill-fated flocking, the victimized homeowners live pretty in pink until the crackerjack team of flockers returns late the next day to transport the birds to their next “Flamingo Flock” assignment. It’s all in good fun and is an innocent, lighthearted way to address breast cancer awareness and support for those whose lives have been impacted by this insidious disease.
All proceeds from fees paid by area residents who sponsor a flocking event are turned over to “Volley for a Cure” and the Locher Scholarship Fund.
Kudos to Michael’s Angels at the clinic — Zandra Whaley, Sheri Vincent, Angie Bramlett and Melissa Malone — who brainstormed the flocking gig, and to Coach Hudson and her statuesque lady volleyballers whose shade of pink deepens by the year. One can hope initiatives like theirs eventually will spike breast cancer right off the medical charts.
But about those pink flamingoes; this reminder and a few words of caution.
Due to last year’s community demand for around-the-clock flocking, the volunteers could barely keep up. So this year, more birds were bought — on a limited budget — and additional flockers were recruited to handle the nighttime deployments. That said, in spite of how adorably pink these figurines really are, please resist the urge to kidnap and take them home. They’re not cheap to replace.
But here’s the real urgency. So spread the word.
These are verifiable assault flamingoes with attitudes. And they’re highly pink — to be handled only by licensed flockers who are their only authorized handlers. And by no means should you try to feed them. Observe from a distance. Get a few chuckles. Take all the snapshots you want, but from a safe vantage point.
And be thankful you took heed to this sage advice.
I knew someone last year who didn’t. The key word is “knew.”
Stay safe folks. And think pink.
“Volley for a Cure” will help beat breast cancer ... while having a little fun in the doing.
(Editor’s Note: Want to “Flamingo Flock” a friend or loved one? Call The Plastic Surgery Clinic at 472-1996 or 596-9159. Your price will be based on the number of requested birds. No extra charge for pick-up. The final night of flocking is Nov. 3. And, if you want a $15 ticket to the Volley for a Cure Breast Cancer Survivor Luncheon at 11:30 a.m. on Nov. 3 in the Lee University Recreation Center, call 614-8603).