Finally! The Flamingo Christmas Display
updated to include the FINAL Christmas 2002 photos
Although this display is now retired from this yard as of January 10, 2003, the web site will continue to live here.
Have hope... Some of this display is being relocated to Georgia where it will burst alive in living PINK!
Flamingo Elementary --
The Christmas Pageant!
After so many years of always being a finalist and never actually winning the city-wide light contest ("always a bridesmaid, never a bride" syndrome), I decided that classic and beautiful was boring. I needed to shake things up and have some fun. It was time to go tacky!
Have a look at the old classic display...
And here is the tacky display...
Over 100 Flamingos of every shape and size! The idea started out as the nativity scene only. My friend, Jan Gregg-Kelm, said to me, "Hey, if you want to go tacky, how about a pink flamingo nativity?" Naturally, I thought her idea brilliant. It sort of snowballed from there. I had an old rollup blind that had faded. Hey! It's the "grass" for the "Little Grass Shack." Build yourself a frame, paint the blind "grass" colors...
You then head on over to the fabric store and buy up a bunch of vinyl (read: waterproof) fabric remnants. A pair of scissors, a hot glue gun and you are in business. "Hmmm, King Number 2 -- I think you'd look good in... green!"
Some assorted craft odds and ends laying around the house: plastic bathroom cups cut out and painted gold make a small weatherproof crown, fake jewels for the crowns, some fake fur, a small cow bell, a few canning jar rings (from the lids) make nice halos, some feathers and jingle bells. The hobby store had a couple of single-light-bulb-on-a-cord "strands" so Rudolph gets a light up nose and the Baby Jesus "glows" from within. Glittery gold pipe cleaner antlers, and some glitter and glue to make crowns and halos sparkle in the lights.
A package of clear C-9 lights to make your elf conga line glow. Replace the "in between" bulbs (in order to space them far enough apart) with a pinkish red C-9 bulb. Wrap that picked-up-on-sale-after-Valentine's-Day pink light strand around their necks...
It really was all so simple...
Just to give you an overview of what kicked it all off. A composite image of the nativity with palm tree too!
Mom, Dad and the Baby! You find yourself a big pink plastic egg in the discount store at Easter. You say to yourself, "Omigawd, it's the Baby Jesus!"
You will note that the ring from a canning jar lid makes a mighty fine halo!
Notice that one king is a darker pink than the other two -- it's that attention to detail that counts.
Did you know that you can buy white flamingos? They are called "Snowmingos." There's that halo made from a canning jar ring again!
These two were added to the nativity in 2000 -- a camel and The Little Drummer Mingo! Left to right, that's camel, cow, (Baby Jesus egg), sheep and drummer mingo.
2000 also saw the addition of a choir. Since they are flamingos and I do so love The Beach Boys. I thought it appropriate that they sing Kokomo. "Off the Florida Keys..." Yes, ladies and gents, it's The Pink Boys! Yep, that's Brian, Dennis & Carl Wilson in the back row with Al Jardine and Mike Love out front! For 2002 I even piped Pink Boys music out to the choir! I made a custom CD with Kokomo and some Jimmy Buffett with some Gloria Estefan... Florida music, what else with flamingos?
Look who's leading Flamingo Santa's team!
Ho! Ho! Ho! Santa is happy! He got a new pink sleigh for 2000!
Here's the whole team. Complete with sparkling gold pipe cleaner antlers! Since this picture was taken, they have been redone to be lit from within.
The Conga Line of Elfmingos. Now, the thought of drilling out the "bottoms" of the flamingos and inserting a light bulb inside was just too hilarious an idea for me to pass up. So I created this Elfmingo "conga line." I soon realized it was NOT fair for everyone else to get a costume and these guys had none, so I made them elf hats -- a feather and a jingle bell on each, with green curly-toe jingle bell shoes making them look far more stylish! They also have pointy green ears!
The elf conga line is on the same side of the sidewalk with the Santa and team. My biggest pet peeve about decorating is the people who put the Santa and reindeer with or around the nativity creche. Hold it! You just shouldn't be mixing those all up so willy nilly. If you're gonna insist on using both, put the religious stuff in one section or side of the yard and the commercial nonsectarian in the other side... even when using pink plastic flamingos! The only exception to this rule is if you also mix in the light-up howling coyote and saguaro cactus -- then you're not tacky -- you're ECLECTIC! If you're gonna do that, you might as well toss in the Easter Bunny too -- what the heck! In 2000 as I added a Grinch (with Max and WhoMingos), plus Frosty to the nonsectarian side.
I even made sure that the accent stuff around the flamingos was either flamingo motif or pink! The decorative flag I found had three flamingos on it. Hmmm, three flamingos... a large scrap of gold vinyl cut in the shape of crowns and attached to the flag... It's the all new Three Kings Flag!
Close-up details in the exhibit:
The front porch column support and other accessories. I found these great "plant twisties" that support garden plants. I usually see frog motif, but I found flamingo motif twisties in the summer of 2000! Add in a few yard sale flamingo stuffed toys and some pink lights.
For 2001, I built a big pink wreath between the bedroom windows with a tin flamingo decoration as the centerpiece. This wreath is 4 foot diameter.
And with one "Snowmingo" left in the box, we needed, of course -- Frosty THE Snowmingo! He has a corncob pipe. His nose is not a button, but it is painted to resemble a carrot. His broom is a whisk broom on a wooden dowel handle. (Thanks, Mom, for that idea!)
The flamingo path markers from 1999 faded and so were reincarnated into Whos for the Grinch in 2000. Brand new, larger, brighter, injection-molded flamingos became the new sidewalk path edgers. Add some flamingo whirligigs for sound and motion. Wrap some pink lights around their necks...
Here is what I have on the inside of the house to show in the front window. No, the inside of my place is not covered in flamingos. The flamingos are an outside-only/Christmas-only thing -- just for the fun and tackiness.
These are my Beaniemingos team. And one of those spinning lamps with flamingo designs adds motion to the window.
MEGAMINGO! 7-ft Tall, Pink & Handsome! The really scary part about this one is that I already had everything I needed to make it on-hand. I didn't have to buy anything -- including the pink paint! I used my Dad's drill press to "punch" the holes for the lights (and I still have all my fingers).
I am sorry to report that MegaMingo went to the great beyond (my garage rafters) in January 2002. When I went to take him down, he fell over and broke into four pieces (cheap plywood). Life is too short for me to hassle with remaking him. His (pink) tombstone appeared for the Xmas 2002 exhibit. (sniff)
8 feet of
He fell and broke
in 4 pieces as he
Life's too short--
He was too tall
With a favorite Suess character coming to life on the big screen in 2000, it seemed appropriate to do a Grinch scene for the display. Start with some green spray paint, add green felt "stockings" to the wire legs to make them stand out more. Then cover the whole body of The Grinch with some neon green cobwebbing from Halloween. He's mean, he's green, He's The Grinch!
Naturally, The Grinch isn't The Grinch without his faithful dog, Max (and his single antler). And that landmark known to every baby-boomer -- Mt.. Crumpit!
I have a new and very expensive vinyl fence. You do not want to put nails, staples, glue or tape on it. So, I draped a sheet of clear landscape plastic over it and weighted it on both sides to prevent wind carrying it off. I then hot glued pieces of vinyl (read: waterproof) tablecloths to make a mural with hillsides and that overflowing sleigh perched precariously atop the ominous Mt.. Crumpit. (After Christmas, I just rolled it up for use the following year!) Mt. Crumpit did get retired after 2001 since I added a new rose bed in front of the fence. The Mt. Crumpit mural was replaced by the "Flamingo Elementary Christmas Pageant" banner.
What's a Grinch without Whos? These faded guys from 1999 were reincarnated via candy cane headgear as Whos to line up along the lilac bushes near The Grinch.
Vandals & Retirement
We had a nasty incident on December 14, 2002. My yard was vandalized/robbed (for the second time in three years). The first vandalization was Christmas Day 2000. Among the missing this time: four driveway flamingo reflectors, one of the signs and the worst... 4 of my small 3D WhoMingos and the original GrinchMingo. The local paper, The Gazette, ran a feature on the robbery, but nobody has returned the Grinch (or anything else). After going through the hurt and consequent anger, I created a new GrinchMingo. His picture is here.
Because of this second incident, I have decided to retire the entire display. I had planned to by 2005 anyway, it just happened sooner. I will be sending my nativity, choir and Frosty to my best pal, Pris, who lives in Gainsville, Georgia. Her upscale subdivision gets irritated with her folk art displays, so it is now time to up the ante. (Her highly sought-after work is exhibited in NYC and Hilton Head, among other locales.)
When her display is up and running, I will publicly list the street here for those of you in that part of the country that want to drive to see it. It will be about one hour north of Atlanta. The mingos will be happier being closer to a warm climate.
THANKS for the Memories...
Thank you to everyone over the years for your fan mail to the display and the support when the vandalizing happened. I really appreciate your nice emails and visits. I even had several nice folks come by and drop off stuffed flamingos, beautiful flamingo wind chimes, and some extra yard flamingos as needing a new abode here in my little Home for Wayward Flamingos!
One little girl gave me her Flamingo beanie toy to "make me feel better" after the first vandalizing incident.
Thanks to the folks who visited from out of town and to those who were repeat visitors to the display...
To those who drove many, many, many miles to see it...
To the senior van tours who came by twice every Friday and Saturday night during December for the last three years...
To the nice older couple from Houston who come every year and have created a fan club for the flamingo display in their own Houston neighborhood!
To all the nice folks I have visited with in my yard over the years...
To the Woodmen Valley Church choir who have caroled in my yard every year just because they were in the neighborhood caroling at a local nursing home...
To Dru Wilson at The Gazette who ran stories about the flamingos each year...
To the weather guys at the local stations (especially Channels 5&30 -- NBC) who ran the flamingos as background video so often...
To my tolerant and friendly neighbors...
To the flamingo fan groups on the internet who have sent emails...
To everyone near and far...
Some day I hope to post a page of some of my most favorite quotes (and especially quotes from the only two hate mails I have received over the years). In the meantime, here is my favorite quote from one of the flamingo fanmails:
"You show a fine level of perverted creativity" (from Patti at maatfoundation.org).
A higher compliment I could not receive... it brought a tear to my eye. My mother is so proud.
Puppies & Flamingos!
The weekend before Christmas 2000, I was fortunate enough to have a litter of 6-week-old Golden Retriever pups visit my livingroom for a photo shoot around my Southwestern-themed Christmas tree. (My friend, a desktop publisher, has a Phoenix-based pet supply catalog client.)
These are a couple of the photos we took when the pups all came outside for a potty break. They were just so cute, I had to share them. I dare you to NOT say, "Awww!"
This happens to be my adorable niece, Nikki. My sis-in-law-to-be fell madly in love with her at the photo shoot and so had to adopt her.
"Aw, come on take the picture so I can go play, will ya?"
(The typical kid-in-front-of-the-tourist-attraction shot for the parents.) By the way, Nikki now weighs in at 79 pounds and is still sure she is this puppy size.
Funny how that sleigh is just pup-sized! They were all anxious to ride in it!
"Well, are we goin' anywhere, or what?"
Map to the Flamingo Lights in Colorado Springs.
Kass' hot tips for elaborate display wannabe's:
- Don't believe that cheap light strands are really "end-to-end." They rarely ever work that way -- what do you want for $2.50? HA!
- Get a professional tool belt--something big enough to hold your "light duty" and your "heavy duty" staple guns at the same time. (And/or a hot glue gun.) I have a holster style belt -- ready for an OK Corral showdown -- just missing my spurs! (Don't mess with me when I have my trusty staple guns!)
- Have a relative who is an electrician! Or get an employee discount with an extension cord manufacturer! Or both!
- Dedicated electrical breakers are good things!
- A "map" of your extension cord placement and where each outlet is located is always helpful ("Where did I plug this one in last year?")!
- Don't ask the neighbors to help when you use power tools -- it scares them.
(Ok, ok, maybe that's just me!)
Here is a (REAL) tip from me about how to use and store icicle lights for ease of hanging from year to year. This is how I do it and am able to hang my icicle lights in mere minutes.
I like the display. Here are my comments. (Send them to kass at kassj dot com)
I don't like/am offended by the display.
© Copyright 1996-2003 v.1.28.03 Kass Johns
Writer & Consultant to the Computer Publishing Industry
Colorado Springs, Colorado :: http://www.kassj.com/
Email: kass at kassj dot com
Please forward your comments or questions to kass at kassj dot com