HICKLEY TWP. — The luck of the Irish blended through the crowd in the form of green costumes and hats as crowds turned out to celebrate both St. Patrick’s Day and the 62nd annual Buzzard Day.
While March 15 heralds the buzzard’s return to Hinckley during the Ides of March, the long history of the area’s most beloved bird was celebrated throughout the township Sunday. Events included a pancake breakfast, carnival, historical society open house and live turkey vultures.
Those viewing the two buzzards at Brongers Park received a special treat, as both birds stretched out their wings to an estimated 6 feet.
“(Paris) came to us back in 2008, and she was being hit by rocks and sticks by little kids on Paris Avenue,” Taryn Leach of the Medina Raptor Center said.
Leach said the bird suffered permanent brain damage as a result of her injuries, and is not able to live on her own in the wild.
“She was actually in really, really bad shape,” Leach said. “She couldn’t hold her head up, she was having trouble just standing, doing anything. So we were doing everything that we could to treat her, but nothing was working.”
After Leach took Paris outside to enjoy some sunshine, volunteers noticed how the turkey vulture pepped up and enjoyed the sunshine and fresh air. Paris, who has the full use of her wings, shares an enclosure at the center with another female turkey vulture.
Across the street at the Hinckley Historical Society, 1634 Center Road, organization president Charles Gibson said he expected a solid turnout because of the nice weather.
“With the weather being what it is, we very well could have 200 to 250 people through here in one day, which is really very nice,” he said.
Gibson said that while some people know the story of The Great Hinckley Hunt of 1818, he would like to see more people inquire about just what planted the seed for Buzzard Day.
“It should be a popular story,” Gibson said. “I would say that some do, if they don’t stop long enough for us to tell them about it, they may not.
“I would say there are too many people that don’t know about the Great Hinckley Hunt,” Gibson added.
According to the Hinckley Township website, early Hinckley Township settlers formed a hunting party to eliminate the wild animals that were destroying their livestock.
The theory is the buzzards found the animal carcasses and continue to come back year after year.
While the story has become legend, Gibson said he believes the buzzards actually have been coming to Hinckley since before the Christmas Eve hunt during 1818.
“I have a feeling that they were coming because they like the nesting area, for the woods that are around here and the fact that the foothills of the Alleghenies start in Hinckley,” he said.
“It is the town where I grew up, and it is always something where everybody in the town wants to visit and it is really interesting to see,” he said.
At the township hall, event-goers participated in a carnival and live animal show, where local organizations also showcased their goods and services.
“This is a great event for the community,” Fire Chief Jestin Grossenbaugh said. “The small-town, big-hearts motto of the township, and every year it is always a huge draw to the community.”