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September 28, 2023

Flamingos bring 'whimsy' to upper quad

By Leah Bourne | April 8, 2004

Anyone heading to class or wandering around campus Tuesday may have noticed something a little out of the ordinary on the Upper Quad -- more than 100 pink blow-up flamingos surrounding a large blow-up monkey on the lawn.

In the most public event of The Whimsy Progress Administration (WPA), the newly formed group brought the plastic animals to bring up the whimsy average on campus Tuesday.

The WPA's sole purpose as a club is to bring a bit of whimsy, ridiculousness and energy to Hopkins. Hopkins, a campus with a student body that is "traditionally overworked and apathetic," according to the group, and needs a little joy once in a while.

The flamingo event is part of what the WPA's group member sophomore Asheesh Laroia called Whimsy Awareness Week.

"This week is meant to raise awareness for our group and provide a vector for the infection of whimsy," he said.

Chris Chan, a sophomore, and a member of the group said, "I got the idea for the flamingos one night when I was lying in bed. I thought, wouldn't it be great to have the Upper Quad covered in plastic flamingos."

Projects of this sort aren't unusual for the newly formed whimsy group. On Valentine's Day, the group strategically placed balloons in various classrooms and tied the balloons with berries that the group picked from the quad to signify mistletoe.

On Monday, group members staged a scene from Monty Python and the Holy Grail by walking around campus in hooded sweatshirts in order to look like monks, chanting sayings in Latin and slapping their heads with textbooks.

The group assembled together at 5:30 in the morning on Tuesday and began to set up the flamingos, which they bought on an Internet plastic wholesaler using the personal funds of group members.

The group has yet to receive SAC funding, although they received permission to use the Upper Quad from the Office of Student Involvement.

It took about two-and a half hours to blow up the flamingos and set them up on the lawn of the quad.

The Whimsy Progress Administration is now an official club with the Office of Student Involvement.

For the most part student reactions were largely confused. Shelly Bhowmik, a freshman, said, "The flamingos are random but cute. Isn't that Whimsy thing, a political thing?"

Maria James, also a freshman, was equally befuddled. "I am confused. I don't know what they are for. It is strange to see a whole bunch of flamingos with a monkey in the middle in the Upper Quad."

Laroia said that for the most part, people came away from the event with one of two reactions --confusion or amusement. Laroia said, "Students asked, 'What is this? I don't get it.'" Or they thought that we were making fun of the Pro-Life group. That is not our purpose. It is just our luck that they are doing pink as well," he said, referring to one of their banners on the breezeway.

"One professor did come up to me and recognized that the flamingos were odd for odds sake," Laroia said.

Whimsy member and sophomore Tristan Ankersar said he hopes that the event "gains more members for our group. It is whimsical, but it is also meant to be public."

Another member, freshman Dave Heldune says that he hopes that it will "make someone smile, and that will make another person smile, and so on."

Besides for the minor setback of having eight of the flamingos stolen, the event did prove to be a hot topic on campus, and went off relatively as it was intended to, the group reported.

Other events for the week that the WPA has organized include what Laroia calls a "protest against protests where members will carry signs displaying this message. There will also be an air band concert with air guitarists."

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