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Sarah Stultz: Flamingos bring smiles, raise awareness

Nose for News by Sarah Stultz

Have you been flocked?

On Saturday, we were out of town for most of the day attending a car show a few hours away.

When we arrived home, we found our yard covered in bright-pink flamingos with a sign that said “You have been flocked,” referencing the Freeborn County Relay for Life and a relay team called Zion’s Beautiful Feat.

I’ve occasionally seen these flamingos around town at various places, but I have never known how they worked. How is it decided where they will be placed, and is it something that recognizes cancer survivors or others, too? I was perplexed because I am not a cancer survivor.

I curiously approached the flamingos and the sign, trying to find any indication of who might have put the flamingos in our yard and what would happen with them next.

On the back side of the sign was a bag with a piece of paper in it. I pulled that out, hoping it would explain a little bit more.

Without giving away all of the secrets, the paper explained that the flamingos were put in the yard as part of a fundraising effort for the Relay for Life team of Zion’s Beautiful Feat. You could choose to donate to have the flamingos removed from your yard or graciously decline if not able to give financially at this time. Then if you wanted, you got to choose the next person to get the surprise — and the gift keeps on giving, all while raising money for the fight against cancer.

To whomever came up with this idea, I must say I think this idea is brilliant. It’s a fun way to not only bring cheer to people’s lives but to also raise money for a good cause at the same time. It’s also a way for the team to expand their fundraising reach beyond their typical social circles and reach people all over the county.

I know it definitely brought some smiles to our family Saturday, and I’m sure it does for everyone who is a recipient.

After the flamingos were removed from our yard on Sunday, our son questioned where the flamingos were, as if he thought they were permanent new lawn ornaments.

Speaking of the Relay for Life, the committee announced a few weeks ago that this year’s Relay for Life will be a little different than previous years. While the committee will still raise funds and sell luminary bags, there will not be a formal, in-person relay this year.

Luminary bags will be available at the Albert Lea-Freeborn County Chamber of Commerce office, Broadway Bikes and Frames R Us. People should return the luminary bags by June 14 to the business they picked them up from. Then, on June 22, organizers will string the returned luminary bags together and hang them in 12 businesses’ windows in downtown Albert Lea. These will be hung with purple lights and displayed until June 29.

There will also be an online silent auction, and teams will have the chance to have their own celebrations.

Zion’s Beautiful Feat, the same team with the flamingos, will have an event from 5 to 10 p.m. June 26 at Zion Lutheran Church.

I hope people will find some way to participate, whether that be through donating or attending this event.

Look to the Tribune for more about this year’s honorary chairwoman, Rosemary Blomquist in a coming issue of the newspaper.

Sarah Stultz is the managing editor of the Tribune. Her column appears every Wednesday.