Man clad in feathers claims birds mock him

17Dec08

He was middle-aged and wore feathers and a frown. It was sunny and cool.

His name was Ronald Smith, and he was standing alone cursing at flying seagulls on Lido Beach last Wednesday at sundown.

“People were gathering around him, trying to figure out what was going on,” said Marie Oreille, a bystander. “He was raising his fists up in the air and yelling profanities at the birds.”

Smith wore a bird suit he’d bought as a costume last Halloween. Yellow and covered in feathers, he stood tall and loud amid the crowd of amused tourists. “They’re mocking me, those birds,” Smith said.

He explained that the night before he had watched a documentary called “The Brave Who Flew,” in which people who put on bird costumes could fly by simply flapping their wings.

“But it’s not working,” he sobbed. “They know it and they’re laughing at me,” he said pointing at the seagulls.

Most spectators were amused, but as some became alarmed by Smith’s increasing exasperation, someone made an anonymous call to the police from a cell phone. Due to a traffic jam caused by an accident on US-41, however, the police did not arrive until 15 minutes later. During this time, Smith grew more enraged, and began fruitlessly tossing rocks at the birds circling above. Some people became furious at Smith as a result and insults flew.

“It’s not the birds’ fault that you’re deranged,” one man yelled at Smith.
Smith responded by chasing the man down the beach until he grew tired a few minutes later and returned to his previous spot. He then sat on the sand with his legs crossed and wept.

Once the police arrived, Smith was approached by an armed officer and questioned. According to the report, Smith was not cooperative.

“He threatened to throw rocks at us,” Officer Shawna Moore said. “He was hysterical.”

He claimed the officers did not understand his position, and so did not want to leave or even get up. After bystanders finished describing the situation to the police, the officers decided to arrest Smith.

Smith was then handcuffed by Officers Moore and Robert Soman and taken to Police Station 35 on Fruitville Rd. as Smith cried out in indignation. The next day he was set free when his brother, Ralph Smith, bailed him out for $300. No charges were pressed by any of the bystanders.

“It was a pathetic sight, to be sure,” witness Annie Slight said.

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