Chicken ‘parade’ has San Marcos on the hunt

This chicken sculpture, pictured Aug. 15 at Old California Coffeehouse and Eatery in San Marcos, is part of the community’s Chicken Parade event running through Sept. 30. (North Coast Current photo)

North Coast Current

This chicken sculpture, pictured Aug. 15 at Old California Coffeehouse and Eatery in San Marcos, is part of the community’s Chicken Parade event running through Sept. 30. (North Coast Current photo)

Helen Hawes

Why do the chickens in North County cross the road? Because they’re in the San Marcos Chicken Parade. But these fowl don’t move, they actually get the residents in the area to crisscross the city’s streets in a scavenger hunt in an effort to build community, have fun and win prizes.

It’s a collaborative enterprise created by the San Marcos Arts Council and the Chamber of Commerce to raise funds and increase awareness for the arts by cross pollinating the city’s businesses with potential customers through foot traffic and social media.

The chickens are much like the La Jolla cow sculptures, only smaller. They are actually identical sculptures hand painted by individual local artists. Each chicken sculpture then roosts with a business sponsor who pays $250 for the honor of being a stop on the scavenger hunt for the length of the “parade” now through Sept. 30. The event began July 4.

The fun continues because the public is invited to find the chickens through a downloadable scavenger map of the parade. When participants visit all of the chicken sites, they can drop off their maps at the last stop to be eligible for a prize. In addition, participants are asked to take a selfie with the chickens, post it on Facebook and tag themselves. There are prizes for eight categories of best photos, including selfie, team, family, most outrageous, funniest, classiest, best male and female, and best representation.

The birds will be auctioned off at the Horse Heritage Festival on Oct. 19 and all prizes will be awarded at the finale during the Chamber Gala on Oct. 23.

People are beginning to catch on and are going with their families. According to the Arts Council, grandparents are bringing their grandchildren, couples are making a date of it, and one lady brought her dog to share in the fun.

The all-volunteer Arts Council had been searching for ways to drum up more money to endow causes it’s passionate about. Currently, the council receives grants from the city, but the funds have restrictions. This event will enable the group to endow causes they are passionate about, according to the council.

This chicken sculpture, pictured Aug. 15 at Old California Coffeehouse and Eatery in San Marcos, is part of the community’s Chicken Parade event running through Sept. 30. (North Coast Current photo)
This chicken sculpture, pictured Aug. 15 at Old California Coffeehouse and Eatery in San Marcos, is part of the community’s Chicken Parade event running through Sept. 30. (North Coast Current photo)

The idea for the parade came from artist and Arts Council board member Raziah Roushan, who participated in a similar event in Portland, Ore., called “Kows for Kids.” It was a great success that she’s hoping to duplicate here.

“We’ll be able to take that money and implement it into public art or workshops or foster school programs,” Roushan said.

Currently, the group has a “Chicken Nuggets” arts program for elementary school children. In addition, there will be grants given to local artists who will teach art workshops that are free to the public.

Roushan credits Tanis Brown of the San Marcos Historical Society for choosing the chicken theme because Brown informed the group that San Marcos used to be filled with chicken farms.

Craig Garcia is the marketing mastermind of the interactive fun. Having been involved in social media since its inception, he saw the potential for this event to go viral.

“It helps the artists and the businesses get a little bit of exposure and the participants have a great time doing it,” he said.

He said he and his friends are having a lot of fun participating.

“It helps bring the community together,” Garcia said.

Not only do the chicken sculptures bring in funds, but the scavenger hunt brings potential customers to vendors they may have never visited. In addition, the social media aspect advertises the game as well as local businesses.

As Garcia and his wife, Giovanna, are co-owners of Old California Coffee House and Eatery, he’s also participating as a sponsor. His chicken was painted by Kent Campbell as a Day of the Dead chicken.

For more information and to download the scavenger map, participants can go to the San Marcos Arts Council website at www.sanmarcosartscouncil.com.

Helen Hawes is a North County freelance writer