Chicken hawks 

For 16 years, feathers have flown before the fireworks in the skies over Guffey.

The tiny town 58 miles southwest of Colorado Springs is where Colleen and Bill Soux and hundreds of curiosity seekers celebrate our national liberation by plunging 60 or so chickens into the air. Guffey's Flying Chicken Contest benefits local charities and organizations: the library, the fire department, and this year, Florence's Manna House Soup Kitchen.

Bill Soux says he got the idea after a friend took him to a similar contest in a small Kansas town.

For a small donation, locals plunge a chicken out of the special velvet-lined mailbox. After touching down, the birds are quickly apprehended by hordes of kids doing their best Rocky Balboa training romp.

Bill Soux is quick to mention that he has yet to injure a single bird. (Though his wife Colleen did note that an AWOL chicken was once found weeks later in City Hall ... but not in an elected capacity.)

Seven years ago the contest was protested by a Boulder chapter of United Poultry Concerns, a fowl-minded animal welfare group. But after activists witnessed the event, several apologized for chanting "Billy is a meanie," and their million-dollar lawsuit for the chicken's mental anguish was subsequently dropped.

For aspiring chicken fliers out there, be it known that the record for longest flight (138 feet) belongs to one Clara Pizzuto. According to Colleen Soux, the launch occurred on Ms. Pizzuto's first day in Guffey, on her first date with the man who is now her husband. As the champ now lives in Florida, she will not be defending her title this year.

So plunge away on Independence Day!

--John Dicker


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