Saturday’s litter cleanup in Hardin Valley started off much like any other: three or four hardcore organizers and about 20 volunteers met at the firehall to begin walking the roads with plastic bags and gloves in hand. What they did not know was that the day would end in infamy.

Throughout the morning, idle chit chat focused on such diverse topics as how irritated folks are that the beautiful pristine valley was about to be overridden by Saddlebrook neighborhoods and Orange Routes. Mostly folks just gathered up trash from the ditches and roadsides, filling bag after bag. The bags were placed by the side of the road, awaiting pickup by George Herman in his golfcart.

At about 11:32 in the morning, John Stouffer gathered up what he described as “ghastly garbage” and bagged it. The bag was promptly picked up and hauled off. But this was no ordinary trash. By 11:38, Myrtle Hendrix noticed something was wrong. Herbert, her favorite lawn ornament, was no longer looking at her through the window. In fact, her entire prize pink flamingo collection was missing.

“I just couldn’t believe it,” said Hendrix. “He was gone! They were all gone,” she added, “I spent 10 years collecting those things, about one every two years was all I could afford, and all five of them was gone.”

Stouffer apologized for the incident, but off the record stated that he had always hated the Hendrix Flamingos. “The only thing worse than pink flamingos is garden gnomes,” he explained, “or red rocks painted with black dots to look like ladybugs. Or perhaps those terrible bent-over little old lady cutouts. But I’ve had to drive past those stupid flamingos every day for the last 10 years, and enough was enough!”

By the time word got to George Herman, it was too late. Quiet cheering broke out as the group discovered that the flamingos had already been incinerated.

“Next year we’ll just be more careful,” said Herman, “but if you live out here, you might want to carry in your lawn ornaments the night before.”