Cambrian: Slice of Life

Scarecrows rest now, but organizers can't

Do you miss the scarecrows in downtown Cambria? We do. After a month of looking at the imaginative sculptures, enjoying them and showing them off, certain corners and stretches of sidewalk seem empty, somehow. Something's missing. Maybe it's the smiles and giggles they triggered.

Meanwhile, legions of volunteers certainly do deserve time off after what has to have been an exhausting month, not to mention the months preceding it.

But, actually, nobody’s resting. Organizing the extensive exhibition is a year-round endeavor.

Chris Landgreen and Taylor Hilden, co-chairwomen of the Cambria Historical Society’s Scarecrow Committee, are among the many volunteers who must be so relieved the display was a major hit and is now officially over for 2011.

How many scarecrows were there? Nobody knows for sure.

“We stopped counting at 225 registrations in the business district,” Hilden said, but the scarecrows “kept popping up” in locations ranging from the Cambria Fire Department to the drum major with Hilden’s band members (with their faces painted by Peggy Christiansen).

Kudos are due all around for:

The seminar team, headed by Valerie and Gil Eastman and the artistic Energizer Bunny, Suzette Morrow

Artists in those seminars, who were determined that their ‘crows would put their best feet (and necks!) forward

Morrow’s talented high-school art students, who created 22 scarecrows this year

The team that built the wooden frames, literally giving the sculptures backbone, strength and support

People who created their own sculptures at home, without guidance but with enormous creativity and spirit

The scarecrow installers

Society volunteers in the museum who acted as scarecrow guides, and

Kristine Brown’s intrepid Scarecrow Patrol members : Casandra Noone, Sharon Delp, Karen Johnson, Terry Finigan and Jacque Griffin. who, for all of October, cruised through town twice a day to monitor, maintain and (occasionally) patch up the whimsical critters.

Tales about the scarecrows have been flowing in all month.

Landgreen said, “The first day, a CHP officer put on his blue lights and cleared a path down Main Street as though a parade was coming or one of the ‘crows needed an EMT.”

The Dr. Fratto clone-scarecrow was in intensive care briefly after a windstorm tossed him to the ground. The sculpture was treated for a broken neck. “It was a near fatality,” Hilden quipped, “but he recovered quickly.”

The vanishing bride scarecrow by Burton Inn (rented from the historical society’s archives) was incidentally installed just in time for a bride guest’s arrival. Then, toward the end of October’s display, the bride ‘crow disappeared for a while. “We’re guessing she went in for repairs,” said Brown. The sculpture had suffered persistent Janet-Jackson-type wardrobe malfunctions, the patrol leader said. “Her boobs kept popping out.”

The Patrol leader said the best emergency call came from a museum worker who reported that the Red Sox baseball player scarecrow had dropped his trousers.

Brown said there was a weird moment when she was standing with her back to Main Street while brushing the hair on “Squidward’s pink pal in front of the Old Grammar School When I turned around, there were people in seven cars stopped and watching as though I was a mechanical scarecrow hairdresser.”

Consuelo Macedo observed it’s ironic that the two winning entrants for the Best of Show award (right around the corner from each other) were the sister act “Singing Nuns” and the “Eight Wild Women” dancing girls.” Taa daa! Applause! Encore!

Do only locals participate in the scarecrow fest? Think again.

On Oct. 28 through 30, 100 engineers from Northrup Grumman held their annual leadership program retreat at Camp Ocean Pines.

Eric Pearson, the retreat’s organizer from Washington, D.C., who also lectures at Cal Poly, always incorporates some public-service stints into the training for the new engineers.

Last year, participants installed the stone on top of the camp’s new amphitheater. This year, they did their public service chores at the camp, but they also built scarecrows 14 of them, in fact. In two hours.

Their leader said he was astonished by the young engineers’ speed, designing skill and artistic results. “Some of the scarecrows are really good,” he said Saturday, Oct. 29.

Pearson said Camp Director Chris Cameron plans to display the artworks next October, when all Cambria’s scarecrows — along with the smiles they trigger — are to come out again to play at Scarecrow Fest 2012.

Editor’s note: If you have a scarecrow story, please send it to And if you’ve got an idea about what Cambrians should do next to keep those big smiles on North Coast faces, and out-of-towners stopping by, cameras in hand, please let us know.