Local birdwatchers may have noticed a new species popping up across Lebanon — the Blue Devil Flamingo.
The new twist on an old yard decoration is actually the centerpiece of the Lebanon High School Marching Band’s Flock-A-Friend Fundraiser. Community members can prank their friends or family by sending a flock of 10 to their yard for $15, and all proceeds go toward the LHS band.
“I was just looking at fundraising ideas and it popped up,” Susan Solbrig with the LHS Band Boosters said. “So we got some blue flamingos, and one of our parents has been 3D printing blue devil horns, and many other parents helped paint the flamingo’s beaks and create the Flock-A-Friend signs.”
Those interested in buying a flock or learning more can visit https://lebanonbandtn.com/ to arrange for a group of band boosters and students to release them into the wild. Up to five flocks can gather per order.
The flamingo closest to the home will also bring a note explaining the fundraiser, and those interested in supporting the band without having the birds land in their yard can purchase “anti-flocking insurance.”
“Officially, we’re starting on Sept. 1, but we had a lot of people who wanted to do it early and we’ve gone ahead with those,” Solbrig said, adding that the fundraiser will run through May 31, 2021. “With COVID-19, we aren’t able to have some of our usual fundraisers like our car show fundraiser, so our band program really needs the ones we can do to be successful … it would really be nice if we could reach a $2,000 goal for Flock-A-Friend.”
LHS Band Director Ben Channell was the first person flocked, and he said the fundraiser should help the program cover several recurring expenses.
“When we do a fundraiser, a lot of that goes toward new instruments,” he said. “Music is a big expense, and we also have some travel expenses for contests, though we aren’t going to play at away games this year. There’s also day-to-day repair of instruments and ordering new uniform parts.”
Flock-A-Friend is also meant to keep the fun socially distanced, and the band is making changes to its shows this year to further prevent COVID-19 from spreading.
“The kids are wearing masks whenever they’re not doing anything out on the field, and they really only take them down when they’re playing their horns or something,” Channell said. “We also had to make some modifications to our show, so it’s more spaced out and distant and involves less movement.”
Band members and band parents can still burn some energy by helping to flock yards across the city, and Solbrig said the experience has been positive for all involved.
“Most of the time, people don’t come outside while we’re flocking them,” she said. “But the other night, we had people look out and smile, shut the door, and by the time we got home they’d already ordered a flock themselves. The kids who join us, they’re laughing, we’re laughing and it’s just so much fun.”