MANSFIELD — One of the 39 flamingos stolen from Arthur O’Neil’s Central Street yard over the past several months has been returned to his home — but with a ransom note on it.
“It was written right on its body,” O’Neil said Tuesday, about two weeks after receiving the note-inscribed flamingo.
He said the note stated: “If you want to see Arturo and friends again..” and then included a Massachusetts phone number.
O’Neil said he didn’t call the phone number, but handed over a photo of it to the Mansfield police, along with video surveillance pictures he recorded following his end of July Christmas party in which seven were taken.
He said he had already taken down the Santa sled and had left the flamingos, sans Santa hats, out in preparation for the next theme.
O’Neil, a retired National Grid employee, has displayed flamingos decked out in themes, including 16 dressed in outfits around a May pole for May day, over the past four years.
The Sun Chronicle has reported stories about the various thefts.
On Tuesday, the flamingos remained in golfing attire in tribute to the PGA Deutsche Bank Championship at the TPC in Norton.
“Right now they’re playing a three-hole golf course and around the 19th hole, they’re just relaxing,” O’Neil said.
“If it wasn’t for the rain, I would have gone out and changed them into something else today,” he said, noting the golf tournament concluded on Monday.
He says he does the themed flamingos in his yard “to make people smile.”
O’Neil says over the years he has received notes to “The Flamingo Family,” thanking him for the display.
Mansfield Police Chief Arthur O’Neill, of no relation to the flamingo family’s owner, could not immediately be reached for comment on Tuesday.
“In a way, it’s kind of funny there was a ransom note on the body,” O’Neil said of the frequently disappearing flock. He noted that he had not called the police after handing over the video evidence, “because they have higher (priority) things to deal with.”
The thefts started in mid-May, O’Neil said, and some have been stolen about once a month since then.
Friends and acquaintances have helped to restock his flock along the way.
And O’Neil said, at least for now, he’ll continue with the displays which potentially include a flamingo rock band and a re-telling of the William Tell arrow-through-the-apple legend.
He’s a bit down because of the incidents, but he has too many more ideas for displays.
The rock band idea came from a Mansfield High School teacher who brought him 10 flamingos at the end of the last school year, replete with inflatable guitars.
O’Neil chuckles just thinking about it.
“I enjoy it, my wife enjoys it” and if it gives people who walk or drive by some happiness, “that’s what it’s all about,” O’Neil said.