On a moonlit night last March, when Roxanna Cohen drove into her driveway, she was astonished to see a flock of plastic pink flamingos planted in her garden.
A white board amid the slender birds read, "You've been flamingoed by S.T.A.R.F."
The perpetrators of the practical joke were Emily Lohmeyer and Paige Prentice, both 17-year-old seniors at Nevada Union High School. The two girls are raising money to visit Spain after graduation to learn more about the culture and language.
Incidentally, S.T.A.R.F. stands for students traveling abroad and raising funds.
The person who is "flamingoed" can call a phone number to find out who played the prank. And those who ask Lohmeyer and Prentice to "flamingo" someone pay them $35.
The concept of flamingoing people was offered by Lohmeyer's mother, who heard it from her friend in the East Coast, Prentice said.
Prentice and Lohmeyer usually plant about 20 flamingos in the front yard. The job can still be risky at times.
"We've had experiences when dogs have barked," she said. "We had one experience when the owner let the dogs out when they started barking, and they got within 5 or 6 feet of us. We were hiding behind the bushes, so the dogs didn't see us. They were distracted by the flamingos. Then Emily and I jumped up and sprinted for our car."
Those who've contacted the girls about flamingoing their acquaintances have been generous.
"Right now, I think we have raised about $700," Prentice said. "We had a lady who gave us $500."
The girls won't use the money they raise exclusively for themselves. They will donate 7 percent of it to a student anti-genocide coalition that aims to end genocide in Darfur, Prentice said.
"Introducing a new idea to people is the most exciting part of the project," Lohmeyer said. "It's fun, so lot of people like it."
"Emily and I have had lots of fun with this," she said. "It's always an adrenaline rush when you are outside someone's house putting flamingos on their yard, not sure if you are going to get caught or not."
To contact Soumitro Sen, e-mail email@example.com or call 477-4229.
Those interested in "flamingoing" someone can call Emily Lohmeyer at 263-5947 or email Paige Prentice at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Soumitro Sen