Round Rock, Texas – Driving down Hidden Glen Drive, John Welsh’s creative decorations of vibrant pink flamingos stand out.
Welsh’s home, often referred to as the “Flamingo House,” has attracted passers-by who stop to take photos and videos of the home at 1021 Hidden Glen Drive.
“My 12-year-old daughter loves to watch the changes happening at their house,” said Amy Maroney, a resident who lives in the neighborhood. “She followed them on Instagram and shares that with her friends. They have really provided some joy and whimsy in a crazy year.”
Maroney said she and her daughter, Alyssa first noticed the flamingos in April. She said at first they thought someone else had placed the birds as a prank, but was surprised to discover the displays would change.
“It was shortly after we went to online schooling and when Alyssa got a bike for her birthday she started riding all over the neighborhood during her breaks at school,” Maroney said. “We have loved all of their displays. It is always a topic of conversation around our house when the changes come.”
Welsh said he bought the pink yard flamingos while participating in fundraisers and walks for the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure toward breast cancer research.
“The flamingos had been sitting in my garage for a little while and one day my wife said to me, Why don’t we put those out in the yard and have something fun?’” Welsh said.
Welsh said he and his family first placed the flamingos in their yard in March, when the coronavirus pandemic hit. He said he and his family received many positive responses from neighbors, giving them the idea to create different themes for the flamingos.
“The neighbors started saying how awesome it was that we were doing this and their kids loved it,” Welsh said. “At that point we decided, alright let’s not just put the flamingos out in the yard, let’s have them actually do things.“
Welsh has up to two dozen flamingos, but each display has varied in size depending on what he has the flamingos doing.
“People are more than welcome to come and see and wander,” Welsh said. “It’s not like most people’s yards.”
Rebecca Lau, another resident in the Hidden Glen neighborhood, said she is thankful the Welsh family allows many to enjoy their yard.
“With the pandemic, we really cut down on our activities, but I wanted a way to keep my kids active on a consistent basis and the flamingo house has served as an incentive for my children to walk, bike or scooter to look at the flamingos,” Lau said. “My kids willingly hike a mile to just see the flamingos.”
Welsh said he encourages people to walk on the lawn as the displays are created to be as interactive as possible, including mazes. Some of the designs Welsh has created include ones for Pride Month, Halloween and Thanksgiving.
“Some previous displays we’ve done are costumes for the flamingos for Halloween and we had the flamingos spell out USA for the Fourth of July,” Welsh said. “There’s a good number of people from the neighborhood that walk by every day and let their kids wander among the flamingos. They have the chance to find the center or the exit to the maze depending on what we do.”
Welsh said ideas for the flamingo displays typically come from him and his wife, Kristen. However, one of their displays in May was a special request from someone in the neighborhood.
“We had a note dropped on our doorstep requesting please have the flamingos do a costume party, and this was the first time we worked with having any costumes on the flamingos,” Welsh said.
Welsh said he followed up by posting a call out on Facebook asking for costumes for the flamingos.
“We had several costumes that were dropped off and there were so many costumes that were made and we did a lot of different things that we hadn’t done before,” Welsh said.
For this month, Welsh and his family wrapped red and white lights around their trees with light bundles hanging with flamingos on the end. They also created a flamingo Santa Claus made of duct tape with eight flamingo reindeer.
“We started talking about what we wanted our Christmas display to look like for a couple of weeks before we set it up,” Welsh said. “We still have things that we want to do but haven’t built it out yet so in the next couple of weeks we’ll be adding to it well.”
Welsh said his inspiration to do the flamingo displays came because of the pandemic.
“My oldest was a senior in high school last year and with the kids being stuck at home and not having a ton to do, we, too, were looking for something to do,” Welsh said. ”Even if it was for a little bit that every couple of weeks we get set up and tear it down, it was a good way to get everyone together.“
Welsh and his family have created an Instagram page for their flamingos and invite people to visit their displays. He said he plans to continue it even after the pandemic.
“It’s something that I enjoy doing and we’ve spent plenty of money toward the flamingos, so it would be a shame not to continue,” Welsh said.