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Buffalo sets kitschy world record for pink flamingos

Francesca Bond

In the fall, you might visit a pumpkin patch to pick out your favorite pumpkin. Thursday in Bidwell Park, you can scour the lawn and pick out your favorite flamingo.Buffalo is home to a new Guinness World Record after the Olmsted Park Conservancy laid out 1,500 pink, plastic lawn flamingos -- all in a line, all touching -- and broke the previous world record of 1,058 set in South Carolina in 2016.

In honor of the 150th anniversary of the Olmsted parks, the Conservancy wanted to do something unique. In recent years, pink lawn flamingos have become a cultural icon with a dual symbolism. Decades ago, in the 1960s, they were widely accepted as being in poor taste and environmentally unfriendly. But starting in the 1980s, they became embraced.

“They have become an iconic, funny, counter-culture to landscape architecture,” said Stephanie Crockatt, Executive Director of Olmsted Parks Conservancy.

Crockatt says Frederick Law Olmsted was the father of landscaping and the flamingos are now a symbol of environmental stewardship.

“We learned that there was this Guinness Book of World Records opportunity, so we turned it into that,” Crockatt said, laughing.

The Conservancy came up with the term "FLOmingo," integrating Olmsted’s initials, and is using it as a social media hashtag.

A volunteer crew was out as of 5 a.m. Thursday morning setting up the lawn ornaments and had to make sure each one was touching, which was important for consistency with the last record. After a brief moment when Guinness World Records adjudicator Phillip Roberston said two flamingos weren’t touching, which was quickly fixed, the record was officially announced.

Credit Francesca Bond
Buffalo is now home to a new Guinness World Record.

“This flamboyance measures 2,018 feet exactly, which is quite a serendipitous moment considering it’s 2018, and we’re here celebrating the anniversary,” said Roberston. “And we do have 1,500 flamingos and a new Guinness World Records title. Congratulations!”

Many families with young children came out for the event, encouraging the kids to choose their favorite bird. Mother and daughter Lolly and Reed Erickson were there because Lolly’s father loves lawn flamingos and they wanted to see the record happen.

“Being there while you’re hearing that Buffalo has just set a world record... was definitely pretty amazing,” Reed Erickson said.

Lolly Erickson said she loves finding unique events like this one.

“We’re pretty excited to live in Buffalo. We moved here eight years ago and we just think, we feel so lucky to live here. We keep stumbling on, you know, just wonderful events,” she said.

Kristen Mcauley was standing along the edge of the park, watching the festivities.

“I was walking to go get a juice from Ashker’s and saw all these flamingos so I figured I’d stop and see what was going on,” Mcauley said. “It’s pretty cool! I didn’t know there were many world records in Buffalo and now, hey, we’ve got the longest chain of flamingos so, pretty sweet.”

Credit Francesca Bond

If you want to see the flamingos, you had better hurry. As each person adopts one, the number decreases and by Friday, they will all be gone. You can buy -- or adopt, as the conservancy prefers-- one flamingo for $10, or two for $15, or become a member of the conservancy and receive two for free. The ornaments are up for adoption until 7 p.m. Thursday. All proceeds benefit the Olmsted parks.

The leftover flamingos will be recycled into compost material and used to make either a new bench or tabletop for the park.