Duff, Linda, and their daughter Kayla were over at the house one evening this past week and mentioned that the Great Chicken Parade would be taking place in Edison on Sunday. We knew that we just had to go.
We weren’t sure if the event was going to happen. Saturday morning we woke up to an inch or two of snow on the ground. We weren’t sure what the roads might be like.
Throughout the day the temperatures increased and the snow didn’t stick around too long. Laura and I were able to get into town for some errands, so the roads were clear. Sunday morning it was cloudy and windy, but there was no snow. It was actually warmer, so we headed out. After an abortive attempt to get breakfast at the Farmhouse, which was overcrowded, we drove on over to Edison and found a parking place. Since we were a bit early we were able to get some pastries at the Bread Farm, which would make do nicely for breakfast. We took up places outside of the Bread Farm with views where the main street takes a sharp right turn to the east and awaited the parade.
The Great Chicken Parade was an outgrowth of the Edison Bird Festival. According to their Facebook page…
The Edison Bird Festival began when local business owners Jim & Lisa Kowalski from Farm to Market Bakery and Wesley Smith & Andrew Vallee from Smith & Vallee as a way to honor the unique birding culture of the valley.
The Edison Bird Festival seems to have gone the way of the dodo. I can’t find any evidence that it lasted past the inaugural year. The Great Chicken Parade seems to be the only remnant of that event.
Apart from similar physiology – feathers, wings, etc – I’m still puzzling over what a chicken parade has to do with a birding festival The region is a serious birder haven, and while the snow geese and ducks are a draw, I haven’t heard of anyone coming to view the area’s chickens.
Edison is a quirky place, and I guess they figured chickens are as good as any other bird. The parade takes place the weekend after the Great Backyard Bird Count, so I don’t know if it’s a statement about the influx of birders, or what.
The crowds began to gather. A couple of unusual characters struck up conversations with us. One was just another curious onlooker who happened by with his wife. The other had a definite political agenda.
As we waited more spectators and participants gathered. Sometimes it was hard to tell them apart. People in elaborate chicken suits walked down the street to get to the parade start. Others wearing chicken hats stood on the sidelines.
A woman behind us was carrying her pet bantam rooster, but she said she didn’t want to walk in the parade.
I was more interested in this guy’s Soviet Union hat than the drumstick deely-bobbers. As for the drumsticks, there were representations of chickens both live and dead, ie, cooked and ready for eating. I don’t think I’ve seen that at any other bird festival.
The Facebook page for the event clearly stated, “No dogs. Because…chickens.” Yet, there were lots of dogs in attendance. There seemed to be more dogs than live chickens. Fortunately, they all seemed well-behaved.
Soon the parade got underway. Laura decided to live chat with her sister Amy so that she could see all of the craziness.
I was frustrated when two women insisted in stepping in front of me to get a shot with their iPads, of all things, right as I was trying to take a shot. I tried to stay low by kneeling so that I wasn’t in anyone else’s way. I even ask nicely MANY times for them to please step back, but they just wouldn’t. These women just made me mad. Even so, I managed to get some shots. They are shot from a lower angle than I might have preferred.
The parade started with a large rooster mounted on the back of a truck.
What followed was an amazing mish-mash of costumes and live chickens. A very tall Colonel Sanders even made an appearance, much to the chagrin of all the chickens, I’m sure.
It was a sight to behold. The parade was over in a matter of minutes, but it was still fun. We were treated to a repeat as some of the costumed characters walked back up the street to their cars. As we looked around we could see more live chickens in attendance as people who had brought their “pets” to the parade started to walk around.
One woman wearing a “hand chicken” outfit came up to me saying, “High five!” Given the placement of her outfit I could have gotten into lots of trouble if I’d followed through.
The event was loads of fun. I still don’t know what chickens have to do with the bird festival. There are lots of farms in the area and I’ve seen chickens on some of them, but there’s not the large scale poultry production like we have in Newberry County back home. I think it’s just one way that a small town in Washington has found a way to have fun and liven up a drab winter. I’m just glad that the weather cooperated for them.