WTF Fun Fact 13163 – The Goodyear Blimp Redondo Beach Connection

In 1983, the city of Redondo Beach, CA adopted a resolution “recognizing the Goodyear Airship Columbia (aka Goodyear blimp) as the “Official Bird of Redondo Beach.”

What’s the Goodyear blimp Redondo Beach connection?

To many, the Goodyear blimp is simply a novelty or publicity stunt. But some people in southern California have more of a connection to the airships. In fact, the Goodyear ships have even received “get well” cards after they’ve been in accidents.

But nothing tops Redondo Beach’s connection with the Goodyear blimp, or more specifically, the fleet ship known as the Columbia. That’s the official bird of the city.

Rather than act as a simple billboard (after all, we don’t know how many tired the blimp has convinced people to buy), the airships become sights for sore eyes. Even neighborhood mascots. There’s a sense of fun and familiarity when you catch sight of one.

To be fair, it is cool and pretty rare to see a blimp. We’ve just never thought about making one our official “bird.”

The blimps were once used to escort military flights across the Atlantic. Now they’re largely used for aerial shots in live televised events. You can even take a ride in the blimp – and over 1 million people have!

The Goodyear Columbia (later “Eagle”)

In 1984, the Olympics were held in Los Angeles, California. Nearby cities, such as Redondo Beach, would be featured during the games, but wanted a way to stand out. Enter the aerial shots provided by the blimp.

The Goodyear blimps have always provided free video shots in exchange for their own publicity during the events (just count how many times it’s mentioned during the Superbowl). Since Redondo Beach didn’t have any control over how many times the blimp got mentioned in return for aerial footage, they went so far as to honor the specific ship taking footage, the Columbia, by declaring it the city’s official bird a year prior to the event.

Of course, the move made headlines across the nation.

In the early 1990s, the Goodyear Columbia had its name changed to the Eagle and given a new paint job.

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Source: Redondo Beach Meeting Minutes

WTF Fun Fact 12619 – The Official Bird of Madison

It all started off with a college prank.

Back in 1979, students at the University of Wisconsin-Madison decided to prank their dean. We’re guessing they had seen Animal House with John Belushi a few too many times.

It was a relatively innocent prank concocted and executed by a group of students known as the Pail & Shovel Party, who already had a reputation for their campus antics involving $10,000 toga parties and buying toys for students waiting to register for classes. Then there was that time they stuck a Statue of Liberty replica in a lake, but we digress.

To welcome back students in 1979, they decided to go as tacky as possible and decorate a lawn near the dean’s residence with pink plastic flamingos. One thousand and eight of them, to be exact.

It wasn’t until years later, when a newspaper columnist named Doug Moe wanted to commemorate the incident, that the idea of having an official bird came about. He lobbied to make it happen, despite the plastic flamingo not being an actual animal. In his defense, he said the city already had 5 “official” songs, so the bar seemed pretty low for making things official in the city. The move would be just another way for Madison to show it had a sense of humor about itself.

The city council agreed. Councilwoman Marsha Rummel, who voted in favor of the motion to adopt the plastic flamingo as the city’s official bird, said: “If you don’t have a little fun, [life]’s not worth living.” Fourteen other council members agreed, and only 4 opposed the motion.

Of course, not every city has an official bird.

According to Mental Floss,

“Most states have an official state bird, but it’s less common for a city to declare an official bird. About 28 American cities have proclaimed a fowl of choice: Chicago’s is the peregrine falcon and Key West, Florida’s is the chicken—and then there’s Madison, Wisconsin.”

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Source: “Why the Plastic Flamingo is the Official Bird of Madison, Wisconsin” — Mental Floss