About 30 plastic pink flamingos were stolen or destroyed Feb. 3, when vandals damaged the lawn birds used by Girl Scouts as a fundraising tool.
Since 2012, local Scouts in an international travel group have raised travel funds by “flocking” lawns with pink flamingos. For a $40 donation, anyone can order a surprise flocking for a friend, said Janet Maher, volunteer group leader for the Girl Scouts of the Chesapeake Bay Older Girl Travel Group.
“Each summer from May through September, the girls fly under the cover of near-darkness and drop off 60 to 70 pink flamingos on the yards of unsuspecting recipients,” Maher said.
The girls leave a yard sign and flyer explaining the flocking fundraiser, and return to collect the birds 36 hours later, Maher said. In some developments, neighbors compete to see who can be flocked the most.
“Our flamingoes have helped celebrate milestone birthdays, births of new babies, or have just provided a good laugh,” she said. “In the eight years we have been running our flock of pink beauties, we have encountered the occasional recipient who did not find humor in our birds, and we have always gone back as soon as possible to retrieve them.”
Normally the flock hibernates during the winter, Maher said, but she made an exception for a longtime fundraiser supporter, who asked for the flocking of a friend who would be returning home after surgery Feb. 3. Maher and her husband left the birds on the lawn of a Rehoboth Beach Yacht and Country Club home, taped the explanation flyer to the home’s front door, and left about 5:15 p.m.
A few hours later, Maher said, she received a call from a Delaware State Police trooper asking her to explain the flocking.
“I thought he was calling to schedule one,” Maher said. “Someone took it upon themselves to remove the birds from the front yard and throw them in the street. I immediately contacted the [flocking] sender, who called the recipient, and they hadn’t even seen the flock in their yard.”
A neighbor found the flamingos and the flyer strewn along the road and called police, Maher said.
“We’ve never had anyone massacre our birds before. After I explained this all to the trooper, my flock was released from custody,” Maher said. “No bail was needed, and no charges were filed against the birds.”
The flamingos did not escape the incident unscathed, however.
“Our flock of 65 birds is down to 39 undamaged and six that lost their legs in the struggle and cannot be used,” Maher said. “We no longer have a flock large enough to continue.”
Replacing the birds will cost about $225. After what happened to the flock, Maher said some parents were also concerned about the girl scouts’ safety.
“Parents said to go ahead with this year, but we are going to drop off during daylight hours now,” Maher said.
A new sign with Maher’s phone number in large print will now be staked in the yard as well, she said.
Fundraising during the pandemic has been tough, Maher said. The 2021 trip was moved to 2022, when 24 Scouts will travel to London, Paris, Switzerland and Italy. In 2023, 31 girls will visit Italy and Greece.
“The girls would like to thank all of our loyal supporters who over the years have helped over 30 girls travel to Europe through your generosity,” Maher said. “I hope the vandals enjoyed themselves. Your five minutes of fun has quite possibly ruined an opportunity for those girls planning to travel with us in 2022 and 2023.”
To order a surprise flocking, call Maher at 302-258-3327.
Note: this article has been updated to reflect the flocking vandalism occurred at at Rehoboth Beach Yacht and Country Club Home, not at the Rehoboth Beach Country Club.