How Flamingos Are Putting Smiles on Homeowners’ Faces

April 27, 2020

California homeowners are waking up to a surprise on their birthdays: their yards blanketed in pink, plastic flamingos.

Real estate brokerages in the Golden State are “mingo-ing” people’s yards in an effort to bring some cheer during the COVID-19 pandemic. And as neighbors take notice of such a good deed, new requests for the flocks are pouring in, real estate professionals say.

Flamingos in front yard

© Anthony Marguleas with Amalfi Estates

Anthony Marguleas, GRI, broker-owner of Amalfi Estates in Pacific Palisades, Calif., got the idea from Kristina McCann, founder of Chroma Realty in the San Francisco area. Marguleas decided to replicate the move in the Los Angeles area.

On a whim, he purchased 130 plastic flamingos online. He posted on Facebook on April 13, telling his followers to contact him if they wanted their yard covered in flamingos in honor of a loved one’s birthday during the state’s stay-at-home order. He does not tie his brokerage marketing to the displays or charge a fee.

Since then, he’s mingo-ed yards for both children’s and adults’ birthdays; one was to celebrate a man’s 80th.

Marguleas and his wife and four college-age kids have designated “flamingo family time” from 8 to 9:30 every night, when they perch their flock upon yards. They’ll mingo one to three homes a night with their 130 flamingos. Each yard display also comes with a poster-size “Happy Birthday” sign. “My intention was to just spread joy and happiness to people during this time,” Marguleas says. “We turn on the news, and everything is so negative. We just wanted to put a smile on people’s faces. And it’s not just the birthday person but the people who walk by and see it, too.”

The day after a birthday celebration, Marguleas and his family gather their flamingo flock, but they always leave one behind for the special birthday person—along with a birthday note from Marguleas. Then, they move the rest of the flock to another home for display.

McCann says she first got the idea for “birthday flamingos” shortly after stay-at-home restrictions started in the San Francisco area. She was looking for a way to give back to her community. She noticed posts from Facebook friends sharing the disappointment about their children missing out on birthday celebrations due to the pandemic.

Then, flamingos popped into her head. Years ago, she had teased a friend about using flamingos as a low-cost marketing hook. She decided to make good on that joke and back it up with a flock of her own. She ordered 50 plastic flamingos online and posted a notice about it on the local community page. “I was thinking I’d wake up in the morning and regret the ‘dumb’ post, but I had 42 requests within 12 hours,” she says.

Last week, she was up to 100 requests, with more coming in daily. She’s now booked into June. McCann devotes five to eight hours, seven days a week covering yards in flamingos. She’ll do up to three houses a night. Her SUV has become a pink flamingo haven. “Social media exposure has ensued, and I’m a household name,” she says. “The joy is amazing.”

Recently, she thought her flamingos may be able to give back more. She started a #mingoforeducation fundraiser in which others can purchase one of her flamingos online. So far, she’s raised $1,000 for local schools.

The flamingo movement appears to be spreading across the country. Other communities also are using the plastic creatures to decorate lawns for social distancing–minded celebrations. “I think I get as much joy doing these as much as they do receiving it,” Marguleas adds. “I love doing this. It is a couple of hours every night, but it is 100% worth it for the joy the flamingos bring.”