Manitoba

Winnipeg councillors mull 'Flamingo Crossing' in Transcona

Transcona's reputation for a love of plastic lawn flamingos may get cemented in stone as city councillors ponder naming a trail in the community "Flamingo Crossing." Rather than wincing at the kitschy connection, Transcona residents are embracing their inner-flamingo.
Transcona's reputation for a love of plastic lawn flamingos may get cemented in stone as city councillors ponder naming a trail in the community "Flamingo Crossing." 2:13

Transcona's reputation for a love of plastic lawn flamingos may get cemented in stone as city councillors ponder naming a trail in the community "Flamingo Crossing."

Rather than wincing at the kitschy connection, Transcona residents are embracing their inner flamingo.

Next week, the protection and community service committee of city hall will consider the name "Flamingo Crossing" for a section of walking trail connecting Transcona Boulevard to the Transcona Trail. 

The Transcona Trails Association came up with the idea for the name, and the community has long had flamingo pride.

Local musician and broadcaster Peter Jordan, aka Rocki Rolletti, helped solidify the relationship between the pink birds and Transcona in the '80s. 

During performances Roletti and his band could hardly be seen on stage through all the pink flamingoes, and the musician once wrote an anthem for the neighbourhood.

Now, the flamingo is a local rec centre mascot, and several Transcona homeowners have taken up the tradition of displaying the birds in as many forms as possible.

Flamingo pride

Lifelong Transcona resident Peter Martin refutes the notion flamingos are cheap and gaudy plastic lawn ornaments.

"I'm proud of my flamingo heritage — my flamingo identity. I'm proud of it. You stand and say, 'Here is my identity,' and you stick it in your front yard and, 'Yea! I'm from Transcona.' I love flamingos, and if you move to Transcona, we hope you will also love flamingos," Martin said.

The die-hard Transcona resident isn't kidding about his passions. He's dressed up as another area icon — Hi Neighbour Sam — and interviewed a flamingo.
City councillors may chose Flamingo Crossing as walking trail name (Sean Kavanagh/CBC)
Iconic pink birds get prime space at Transcona Museum (Gary Solilak/CBC)

A glass case in the main room of the Transcona Museum proudly displays a pair of the pink, long-legged birds named Floyd and Florence. 

Acting curator Alexandra Kroeger said the two birds arrived as part of the 75th anniversary celebration of Transcona in 1986.

Kroeger traces the interest in flamingos back to the '50s.

"As far as I can tell that's when flamingos started to become popular. They had made enough advances in plastics you could make a lawn ornament out of it," Kroeger said.

Kroeger said the Transcona Museum also has a "Floyd the Flamingo"costume that summer students wear to promote the facility and celebrate the neighbourhood.

Transcona city Coun. Russ Wyatt may not fit into the Floyd the Flamingo costume, but he unreservedly backs naming the walking trail Flamingo Crossing and is quick to defend the neighbour love affair with the pink birds.

"We have so many symbols, like, our country right? We have the beaver, we have the maple leaf. Well, in Transcona, we have the flamingo," Wyatt said.

Get flocked!

This is likely the wrong season to spot flamingos in Transcona.

Many have flown south or headed for the safety of rec rooms across the neighbourhood, but not at Lisa Webinger's house. She has dozens at the ready — for promotional use.

"Many people like to get flocked!" Webinger said.
Trail may soon be "Flamingo Crossing" (Gary Solilak/CBC)

The Transcona resident has used her squad of flamingos to raise money for the Challenge for Life 20K walk, and currently, the pink birds are being rented out to raise money for Movember, a fundraiser in support of prostrate cancer and other men's health issues.

Webinger, who moved to Transcona 15 years ago, said the area's love-affair with flamingos are no longer a reason to look down on the community.

Lisa Webinger says "people love to get flocked" by flamingoes (Gary Solilak/CBC)
"Maybe at one point in time, but I think the community, for the most part has embraced it. It's a lot of fun. It's funny. It's cheesy. I know a lot of community members that use it for fundraising, and it's very iconic!" She said.

Webinger said naming a walking trail Flamingo Crossing is a fitting choice for the area.

The decision on naming the trail is in front of the community services committee on Nov. 10.

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