Pink Flamingos: A True American Icon

Posted by Carolyn Hornickel on

Have you ever thought about where those bright pink flamingo yard ornaments came from in the first place?
No matter where you live pink flamingos have been a part of American culture for over 60 years. And you thought they came from some far-away exotic place. LOL.  I know I did.

Donald Weatherstone | Sculptor - Creator of Pink Flamingos
In 1957, Donald Featherstone, (pictured above) a Worcester Art Museum art school graduate from Worcester, Massachusetts, was offered a job designing three-dimensional lawn ornament animals for Union Products, Inc. in Leominster, Massachusetts.

He designed the 3D pink flamingos after pictures he seen in "National Geographic" magazine since there were no live flamingos to be found in Massachusetts.
They were always sold in sets with one being over 3 feet tall with its head up in the air as if looking around and the other with its head down eating grass.

Featherstone resided in Fitchburg, Massachusetts with his wife, Nancy, where he kept 57 plastic flamingos on his front lawn to commemorate the year he first created his first iconic pink flamingo, fresh from art school. 
Featherstone and his wife Nancy were often seen together and dressed alike for over 35 years.
Don Featherstone, creator of pink flamingo yard ornaments and his wife Nancy dressed alike.

In 1996, Featherstone was awarded the 1996 Ig Nobel Art Prize for his creation of the pink flamingo.  The reason why they are pink is simply that it was the most popular color in the 1950's.

If you happen to come across or have an original pink flamingo designed by Don, you may want to hold on to it.  They have been featured in art exhibits around the world.
How do you know if it's a true original? 
In 1987, Donald Featherstone inscribed his signature in the original plastic mold. His signature stayed on the mold until 2001.

Mr. Featherstone climbed the ranks at Union Products and later became the president of the company where he created and sculpted over 700 characters for the firm.

Here's Mr. Featherstone in a sea of plastic pink flamingos in 1998.
Don Featherstone, creator of Pink Flamingo yard ornaments, covered in a sea of plastic pink flamingos.  Back Porch Talkin' Country Exchange

Mr. Featherstone, an inventor and classically trained painter, passed away on June 22, 2015, but his legacy lives on in front and backyards across America.  "He was the nicest guy in the world," his wife Nancy Featherstone said. "He didn't have a selfish bone in his body. He was funny and had a wonderful sense of humor and he made me so happy for 40 years." 

As they say, the rest is history.

Whether you keep your flamingos in a straight line or as a centerpiece in your front yard around a tropic pond scene, Don said there was always a plausible way to display them in a pair with one head up and one head down, however, he has been quoted, laughing, "I always said if you put six of them around a tractor tire painted red, white, and blue and put petunias in it, in front of a nice house, it looks pretty tacky."  

I wonder what Mr. Featherstone would think of his iconic legacy now, considering pink flamingos are no longer just lawn ornaments.  
They are produced on everything from pillows to salt and pepper shakers, from doormats to wall hooks and more.

Own a piece of true American culture from our unique collection of pink flamingo home and garden decor that will brighten your day and make you smile every time you see one, now that you know the true history behind this true American icon.


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