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What is a Lawn Flamingo?

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  • Written By: Tricia Ellis-Christensen
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 21 August 2016
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The lawn flamingo is perhaps one of the most iconic lawn decorations which evoke both kitsch and nostalgia, especially in the US. Along with the garden gnome, lawns spiked with flying, standing or feeding flamingos either delight or annoy others. Some love the lawn flamingo, primarily manufactured by Union Products until 2006. Their designer, Don Featherstone, hardly knew lawn flamingo designs would inspire the sale of 20 million of these flightless plastic birds.

Union Products used the same molds for the lawn flamingo until it closed up shop in 2006. Before, where the average pair of these birds might cost about 15 US dollars (USD), they now may sell for a much higher amount on EBay, about 50 USD. Special designs, like the golden lawn flamingo, have fetched up to 500 USD because the birds have become sadly much more rare since Union stopped producing them.

Many people have a love or hate relationship with the lawn flamingo. To some, these plastic birds, in shocking pink, look out of place on suburban lawns. Others feel they evoke an older and more neighborly time. They became very popular in the early 1960s and numerous lawns were dotted with these friendly pink birds. Perhaps part of their charm is the relative rarity of the flamingo in the US; you can't see a flamingo outside a zoo in the US, in most cases.

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The lawn flamingo does begin to lose its color after a while, and when pale, the once formerly pink flamingos can start to look pretty awful on a lawn. Dedicated collectors of the lawn flamingo might replace them and retire old ones as they began to fade. Finding the lawn flamingo, at least the original Don Featherstone designs, has become more challenging since the closing of Union Products.

There are certainly some lawn flamingos that are not manufactured by Union, but many lawn flamingo enthusiasts feel these are of poorer quality than the Don Featherstone designed styles. There is hope that a new company will buy Featherstone’s original molds prompting a rebirth of the lawn flamingo phenomenon.

The lawn flamingo was often used as a prank. People would, at night, decorate someone’s lawn with a huge number of flamingos. The residents of the home woke up to plastic flamingo flocks on their lawns. This was certainly better than toilet papering a home, but while the lawn flamingo remains in short supply, the prank may become as rare as the plastic bird. With the great expense of a pair of original Don Featherstone designs, only the wealthy will be able to “flamingo” a neighbor’s lawn.

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