Meet the one-and-only Donald Featherstone.

By Meghan Overdeep
July 09, 2019
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Love them or hate them, few things symbolize midcentury suburban life in America better than the plastic lawn flamingo.

More than 50 years after their invention, most people are familiar with the iconic pink birds, though few know anything about their quirky inventor, Donald Featherstone. Thanks to a recent tweet, however, that's changed.

Last week, Twitter user Sarah McGonagall shared three photos of the late artist in all his flamingo glory: one of him in the middle of a field full of his pink creations, another of him tending to his plastic flock, and an incredible one of his smiling head peeking out from a pile of the identical birds.

"I can only hope that one day I am able to live my life with as much purpose as Donald Featherstone, inventor of the plastic pink lawn flamingo," McGonagall wrote in the now-viral tweet.

Currently, the tweet has been shared more than 12,000 times and received upwards of 57,000 likes. Many people commented with photos of their own Featherstone flamingos, but the most exciting thing to come out of the tweet's virality is a renewed interest in the eccentric man behind the kitschy decoration.

According to McGonagall, Featherstone "kept 57 of them in his front yard year-round, rarely ever told anyone he created them, and dressed identically to his wife for over 35 years."

Featherstone, who passed away in 2015, created the infamous plastic pink lawn flamingo back in 1957. Designing the flamingo was his second assignment at Union Products, a manufacturer of plastic lawn ornaments. It was the young artist's first job and would come to define his legacy.

The New York Times reports that Featherstone worked off of photographs from National Geographic to create the three-foot-high creature. They are typically sold in pairs: one bird upright, the other head down.

Union Products manufactured Featherstone's Phoenicopterus ruber plasticus until 2006. Today they are produced by the Cado Company, of Fitchburg, Massachusetts, and available on Amazon for $17.49 a pair.

Long live the plastic flamingo!

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