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Last of the Leominster Flamingos

Last of the Leominster Flamingos
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In a quiet corner of a bustling flea market in Leominster, Massachusetts, the last of a dying breed are stacked neatly along a chain-link fence. Once a vibrant species, this modest inventory is all that’s left of Phoenicopterus ruber plasticus–the Leominster plastic yard flamingo.

Invented by Don Featherstone in 1957, the creatures’ sole breeding ground for 50 years was the Union Products factory. From there, they migrated to front lawns and flowerbeds around the world–no small feat for such a generally lethargic creature. (The plastic flamingo has, on occasion, been clocked at the feisty speed of 120 mph, although that seems to happen only in Florida during hurricane season.)

An icon of American kitsch, the plastic flamingo remains inexplicably popular. Its demise stems not from lack of demand but from the skyrocketing costs of petroleum-based plastic resin and electricity. In 2006 Union Products stopped operating, and in 2007 the original Don Featherstone mold was sold to a factory in Westmoreland, New York, which is currently producing them.

For a time, a small group of concerned Leominster citizens planned to create a new line of birds from recycled plastic, threatening to spark a bitter cross-border flamingo feud. Sadly, these plans have fizzled, and all that’s left of the once-thriving north-central Massachusetts flamingo-industrial complex is the backlog salvaged from the Union Products warehouse. When the last bird is sold, the most flamboyant creature in New England will fade into the past. Still, no matter where the yard flamingo is produced, it will forever remain our hot-pink gift to the world.

To adopt your own, visit the Leominster Flamingo Company at Tilton & Cook Cooperative, 38 Spruce St., Leominster, MA. Open Thursday-Sunday 9-4. 978-590-7629; tiltonandcook.com

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3 Responses to Last of the Leominster Flamingos

  1. James Vaughn June 28, 2009 at 10:58 pm #

    http://www.plastic-flamingos.com

    Selling pink plastic flamingos online for over 5 years.

    In Stock and Ships in 1 Day

    We offer plastic lawn flamingos for birthday surprises, flamingo flocking fundraisers, lawn and garden decorating and other special events such as grand openings and open houses. Plastic pink flamingos also make a great house warming gift for the new home owner.

    Our flamingos are very similar to the Don Featherstone flamingos from Union Products!

    We are the premiere source for Pink Plastic Flamingos, a classic American icon(Pseudamingoflay plasticus). The Pink Flamingo is alive and thriving. A unique way to celebrate a birthday party, anniversary, or have a flamingo flocking fundraiser!

  2. Percy Flamingo October 30, 2009 at 8:28 pm #

    http://www.ThePinkFlamingoSite.com

    If Flamingos make you smile then, The Pink Flamingo Site will make your day!
    We carry a full line of the very best Pink Flamingos and Skelemingos on the market.
    Free shipping and our low-price guarantee ensures that you are getting value and our customer service is second to none. Our goal is to be your one-stop shop for Pink Flamingo lawn ornaments, home decor and party attire.
    Please check out our Percival, the Pink Flamingo Blog at thepinkflamingosite.com

    Thank you,

    The PInk Flamingo Site

  3. Pink Flamingos December 16, 2010 at 3:00 pm #

    Thanks for the great history writeup. It never ceases to amaze me how popular Plastic Flamingos have become.

    Featherstone Flamingos are still available from our store: http://www.Pink-Flamingos.com. They are the originals from Leominster, MA but very limited in stock. We also have many other Plastic Flamingos in stock from Mini Flamingos to twirling to Pink Flamingos with clothing.

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