Another year, another giant chicken up in flames! That’s right, I’m talking about the annual ritual my family and friends partake in every July – the Chicken Inferno. This was our 11th observance of this poultry-themed Pennsylvania party, a celebration that continues to grow in both attendance and amusement.
It’s sad to say that as the Chicken has waxed, summer bird life on my father-in-law’s hill has seemed to wane. I’ve mentioned last year and the year before that I’ve noticed a definite decline in avian activity over the last decade. Chipping Sparrows, Eastern Kingbirds, American Goldfinches, and Red-winged Blackbirds don’t seem deterred by the amusing human antics in their territory but even they make themselves scarce not just for the weekend but the entire summer. Perhaps we’ve blown off too many pyrotechnics and fouled the air. All I know is that the birds were beyond boring this time around. Believe it or not, I didn’t lift my bins once. The moths were much better as I’ll attest if I can identify any of the ones I saw.
But how about that big bird, the gigantic galliform for which the festivities are named? This year’s chicken was based on a whimsical ceramic model rather than a specific breed of barnyard bird. Staying true to our muse, we constructed a 15-foot tall, candy colored clucker, wrapped it lovingly in muslin, then stuffed it with fireworks. And then, of course, we proceeded to burn it. Good times!