After dark on March 16, Kristin Armstrong was tiptoeing around in the semi-lit night sticking neon pink birds all over someone’s lawn. She heard a noise and looked up.
There was a woman peering through one of the house’s windows, staring at her.
“I got busted,” Armstrong said. “This lady went to close a window, and I was just standing there with a flamingo in my hand. I said, ‘You’ve been flocked!’ and she started laughing.”
- PHOTO COURTESY OF KRISTIN ARMSTRONG
- PINK PAY DIRT: The flamingo flocking fundraiser has been a fun way for the Gay and Lesbian Alliance of the Central Coast to raise money to fix its roof in downtown San Luis Obispo. “Victims” of the flocking have had fun joking around with the nonprofit. In this instance, the birds donned party hats before they were picked up.
The woman demanded to know who had asked for the flock of tacky pink flamingos to descend on her lawn. When Armstrong told her, she cackled (OK, she just laughed), vowing to get them back by doing the same. And that’s the fun of the pink flamingo fundraiser. It’s an excellent prank to play on someone with a good sense of humor and the boisterous spirit to exact revenge in kind.
The board members of the Gay and Lesbian Alliance of the Central Coast (GALA) have cunningly carried out the wishes of their benefactors, propping up the plastic pink birds on the lawns of 30 unsuspecting victims since the beginning of March. The game of pranks is a fundraiser meant to eventually fix the leaky roof of GALA’s building on Palm Street in downtown San Luis Obispo.
“We’ve had a lot of fun,” Armstrong, a GALA board member and the youth group director, said. “We do want to do it one more time.”
GALA’s building is used for a few different things: as the nonprofit’s headquarters; the home of the most extensive LGBT library on the Central Coast, the Hatler Memorial Library; and hosts several different LGBT support groups. Armstrong said that includes two different youth groups, which she helps run. Although Armstrong is straight, she is a volunteer (“I’m an ally,” she said) with GALA because she watched family members struggle during a time when identifying as an LGBT was less acceptable.
“And it broke my heart,” she said. “That’s why I work with the youth. I want the next generation to not have to struggle the way that my family did. I’d like to build up the community.”
She’s volunteered with the organization for a little more than three years and has been the youth director since October of last year. Earlier this year, the board was trying to decide how best to raise funds to fix the roof, and Armstrong mentioned this flamingo thing could be a good way to do it. Of course, the flocking fundraiser isn’t specifically a GALA thing, it happens all over. All you have to do is order some birds, establish a set of payment rules, and you’re in business.
By mid-March, GALA had raised $1,000 of the $10,000 price tag to fix the roof. The last day to order a flock is March 30. Here’s how it works: It’s $20 to coax the blush-colored specimens into migration—you get to pick their destination, but remember: It’s supposed to be a fun joke! Be thoughtful in your choice of victim.
“I had one guy get really angry and break a bird and pitched the largest fit,” she said, adding that a group of kids also stole a flamboyance of flamingos off someone’s lawn. “Other than that, everything has been really positive.”
And if those fake-feathered friends nestle into the comfort of your front yard there are two distinct paths: You can pay GALA a $25 donation to have the birds removed or $20 to get those fuchsia-molded fiends to invade another victim’s (friend’s) grassy paradise. And there’s also the “insurance” option. A payment of $250 will prevent the rose-tinted gaggle from landing on your lot in the first place.
To order a flocking, contact the GALA center at 541-4252 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Branches of the San Luis Obispo County Public Library are celebrating National Library Week with the Food 4 Fines program from April 11 through 16. One non-perishable food donation will be worth $1 of fines and there’s no limit to how many overdue fines can be covered by donations. For more information, visit slofoodbank.org.
Editor Camillia Lanham wrote this week’s Strokes. Send tips to email@example.com.