DRACUT — Driving around town, you may wonder why some residents have their front lawns decorated with pink flamingos.
It wasn’t by choice. They have been “flocked.”
Riley Sergi, 10, who has earned a position in People to People’s Student Ambassador Program, needs to raise $4,000 by March 1 to secure his spot on the group’s 14-day trip called “Yearning for Yosemite.”
According to its Web site, the People to People Student Ambassador Program, founded by President Eisenhower in 1956, provides educational opportunities at home and abroad for grade-school, junior-high school, and high-school students. The group’s trips combine hands-on cultural experiences, behind-the-scenes access to fascinating people and places, and amazing outdoor adventures that can create life-changing educational experiences.
“They had different (fundraisers) on their Web site,” Sergi said. “But with this one, I thought I had a better chance (of raising money).”
With each flock of flamingos, Sergi leaves a note explaining the situation.
For a $20 donation he informs the lucky recipient that he’ll “flock” another friend or neighbor of their choice, while for $15, the flamingos will find another home. If the flocked home can’t help him, he’ll just wish them a good day.
Sergi and his parents, Dave and Rhonda, were caught one night when they were setting up a flock. “My dad had to go in and explain why we were flocking them,” Riley Sergi said. “Thank God they were our friends and they weren’t mad.”
Rhonda Sergi said it’s better to flock at night so their targets can wake up to a big surprise.
Riley Sergi said he’s raised close to $1,000 from flocking and sending sponsor letters to local businesses, but his parents will help him reach his goal if he doesn’t raise the $4,000 by the March 1 deadline.
“It’s quite an honor and he deserves to go,” Rhonda Sergi said. “We made a deal with him that if he tried to fund-raise, we would definitely help him out with the rest.”
He was nominated to the program by his Campbell Elementary School music teacher, Mrs. Cieslik.
Riley Sergi and his parents had not heard of the program before receiving the letter about his nomination.
“What the heck is this? What the heck is this program,” Riley Sergi remembered asking himself when he first read the letter. “I knew nothing about it.”
The Sergis attended the orientation seminar and thought it would be a great program for Riley to be a part of.
Sergi went through the interview process and was named as one of the 40 student ambassadors of the New England delegation from the 100 students who interviewed for the honor.
The trip will take Sergi to various places that have made California famous, such as The Golden Gate Bridge, Fisherman’s Wharf, Yosemite Valley, Glacier Point and even Alcatraz, the famed former prison in San Francisco Bay.
“One of my favorite shows is Myth Busters,” Riley Sergi explained. “They just did a show about if people were able to escape. They said this one guy made a life raft out of jackets.”
While he’s anxious to see the places he will be touring, he is simply excited about the trip itself. “We’ve gone to California before to San Diego. But we only went for a week; now I’ll be gone for two.”
Sergi’s trip will be in July, when he will be celebrating his 11th birthday.