It started as an inside joke that Stephanie Crockatt thought only she and her colleagues in the Buffalo Olmsted Parks Conservancy would understand.
This morning, they decorated Bidwell Parkway with a line of 1,500 pink plastic flamingos, breaking the previous mark recognized by Guinness World Records. The record was previously held by Pledge the Pink of Callawassie Island, S.C., which gathered 1,058 flamingos in 2016.
Crockatt, a landscape architect and executive director of the conservancy, had joked at the idea of using pink flamingos as garden decorations. Her team at the conservancy, which manages Buffalo's historic urban park system, thought of using the flamingos to commemorate 150 years of Frederick Law Olmsted-designed parks in Buffalo. That idea took off after a member of the conservancy discovered the Guinness record, and they decided to break it.
Crockatt and her team worked with several donors, as well as Philip Robertson, a Guinness record adjudicator, to put on the event.
Spectators began watching as early as 5 a.m. Thursday as organizers pulled off the stunt. The flamingos were lined up, touching one another, per Guinness standards, by 8 a.m.
The Olmsted team had purchased 3,000 pink flamingos. Half of the garden pieces were used to break the record, while the other half were spread through the community. Crockatt says that raising the money to purchase the flamingos wasn't difficult because "donors really wanted to see it happen."
All Olmsted parks were given pink plastic flamingos Thursday as part of the celebration. Bigger Olmsted parks have more than 150 flamingos within their borders while parkways and circles may have around 50.
Crockatt said she hopes that seeing the flamingos will "make people think of recycling and helping their community." She has been working to use the flamingos as material for a recycling project. Flamingos were on sale after the event and the money raised through their "adoptions" will help fund the next move for the plastic birds. The leftover plastic flamingos will be melted down and reconstructed into park benches that will be placed throughout the Olmsted parks.
"We just want to make people aware that there is a park system here in Buffalo," said Crockatt.
The event was nothing short of a good time for Buffalo resident Jackie Dillion, who purchased two flamingos that she "just couldn't let go." Dillion saw news about the event on the Olmsted parks website and says she hopes to see more like it in the future. "It's fun, we need to do more fun things like this."
Olmsted applied for a license to use the Guinness World Records brand, which comes with an adjudicator to ensure all the variables are consistent and fair. Robertson was in attendance Thursday to witness the new record. He said his favorite part about the display was measuring the line of flamingos because it equaled 2,018 feet, coincidentally, the same number as the year the record was broken.