Flamingos alight for a worthy cause

By Janice Steinhagen - Staff Writer
Norwich - posted Tue., May. 17, 2011
Mayor Peter Nystrom with members of the Norwich Youth Action Council, who 'flocked' the mayor's front yard May 16 to kick off the council's summer fundraiser. Courtesy photo. - Contributed Photo

An unexpected migration of birds whose range doesn’t usually include Connecticut will be taking up temporary residence around Norwich in the coming weeks. But you won’t need binoculars to see them.

Two roving flocks of 30 plastic flamingos each – plus a palm tree – will “alight” in the yards of contributors to a fundraising project sponsored by the Norwich Youth Action Council. Those whose yards are “flocked” must make a donation of at least $30 to send the birds on to their next destination.

It’s all in the name of insuring some summer fun for needy children in Norwich, said Angelo Callis, family therapist and program developer for Norwich Youth and Family Services.

Callis said that the project grew out of an e-mail the Youth Action Council received some weeks back from the city’s recreation department. “The rec. department ran out of scholarships for underprivileged kids,” he said. That meant that needy city kids wouldn’t be able to take part in such enrichment activities as karate or dance lessons, theater workshops or sports camps, he said.

The NYAC decided to raise scholarship funds through a quirky plan to “flock” city residents, starting with Mayor Peter Nystrom and the Norwich Public Schools administrative offices. After city officials gave their blessing to the project, a team from NYAC appeared May 16 with a flock of plastic flamingos and installed them on the front lawns of the first two “victims.”

Victims are encouraged to name someone to whom they’d like to send the flamingos, preferably someone who would welcome the chance to support a worthy project. They can also choose the next victim from the agency’s own list of future victims. Residents also have the option to pay a $30 fee to keep the flamingos away, if they think they’re on the list. A $30 check to Norwich Youth and Family Services serves as the “removal fee.”

The NYAC is made up of teenagers who have been recognized by their schools as having leadership potential, said Callis. Working with Youth and Family Services, they learn leadership skills and help run family fun nights and other community service projects.

The event will continue through June 24 within the city limits. To participate, call Callis or Kay Eyberse at 860-823-3782, or Jodi Vara at 860-425-5643.

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