Yesterday Donald Featherstone died. You may not recognize the name but chances are that you’ll recognize his most famous invention: the plastic pink flamingos that still dot people’s lawns in the suburbs to this day. In 1958 Featherstone was an employee at Union Products when his company asked him to carve a flamingo. He did so and the rest is history.

Based on what I’ve read, it sounded like Donald Featherstone and his wife were pretty unique characters. Throughout their marriage they would wear matching clothes on a daily basis.

I’m well familiar with the pink flamingo lawn ornaments because I frequently saw them in my neighborhood when I was a child. (My parents weren’t into them at all so my house never had them.) I saw them so much that I ended up not noticing them because they were so prevalent.

But the plastic pink flamingos have become so iconic that there is now an official site called One interesting tidbit I learned through that site is that the official Featherstone-designed flamingos are still manufactured in the U.S. instead of China and other Third World countries (where so many of the consumer products sold in the U.S. are manufactured these days).

Of course those plastic pink flamingos have made their way into pop culture. In the 2011 animated Disney movie Gnomeo and Juliet, there is a pink flamingo character named Featherstone in honor of the lawn ornaments’ original creator.

And then there’s John Waters, who made the notorious early 1970’s film Pink Flamingos where one can see a pair of pink flamingos on the front lawn of this pink trailer if one looked hard enough in this clip.

The movie was made in the town of Phoenix, Maryland, located way north of Baltimore. Ever since that film it seems like some sections of Baltimore (most notably in the Hampden area) have practically lionized the pink flamingo. Here are a couple of shots of the giant pink flamingo that’s displayed outside of Cafe Hon in Hampden.


Hampden, Baltimore, Maryland, December 22, 2012

And then there are the pink flamingos on display in various shops along Hampden’s main shopping area on West 36th Street.

Hampden, Baltimore, Maryland

Hampden, Baltimore, Maryland

Hampden is also home to the annual Hon Fest, which is supposed to be a celebration of kitsch. Of course, there are always a few pink flamingos there as well, such as the ones in the photos taken at the last time I went to that event in 2013.



Hon Fest happened a few weeks ago and there were some pink flamingos there as well. One can see them as part of booth decorations, sunglasses, and tote bags. (For the record, I wanted to go this year but that weekend kicked off this huge heatwave with high humidity that is still going on as of this writing. The night before the start of Hon Fest I went to a Bowie Baysox baseball game where I initially endured high heat and humidity until some clouds came in and it would shower off and on. The following day I went to the Maryland Faerie Festival since I haven’t gone there in a few years and it was another day of high heat and high humidity. I originally planned on going to Hon Fest on the third day but after enduring high heat and humidity for the past two days, I really wasn’t up to subjecting myself to more of the same for the third day in a row.)

Donald Featherstone may be gone but his pink flamingo creation will continue for generations to come.