The great Lake Stevens chicken war

LAKE STEVENS — The Chicken has had a long and full life.

Right now, it’s undergoing scrutiny after its current owner at the Chicken Drive-In, in downtown Lake Stevens, was recently told by the city the bird has to be removed because it violates city code. The matter has yet to be resolved.

But that’s nothing. It’s had its shoulder broken. It’s had numbers drawn into its eyes. It’s been dragged to keg parties in the woods. The 7-foot-tall fowl has been the foil for countless school pranks over the years.

Ask Jean Kiniry. She started the Chicken Drive-In near what is now Frontier Village in 1968 — 40 years ago. The bird was first stolen in 1969 from its perch atop the small drive-in, after which the class of ‘69 wrote the number “69” in black on its yellow eyes.

Nearly every year, the Lake Stevens High School senior class filched the fiberglass Chicken, and Kiniry’s patience with the pranks depended on the shape in which the bird came back. Or if it came back at all.

“Sometimes I had a little problem,” said Kiniry, now 75 and still living in Sunnyside. “One time I had to bribe the whole basketball team with burgers and fries to get it back.”

In later years, she bolted it down, and even hid it away at graduation time.

Kiniry ran the stand, which enjoyed a reputation for good fast food, for 27 years until she sold it to Dave Huber in 1995. Huber ran the business until closing it a few years ago. The building now houses a barbecue business.

Last year, the latest incarnation of the Chicken Drive-In — with a reproduction of the bird, since Huber still has the original — opened downtown.

Kiniry made a good living and enjoyed the work, she said.

“I knew everyone up there,” she said.

Chicken run

Early 1960s: The fiberglass Chicken makes its first perch atop Gerry’s Drive-In, Lynnwood

1968: Jean Kiniry, a former Gerry’s employee, buys the Chicken and opens the Chicken Drive-In

1969: The Chicken is stolen for the first time

1970s-1990s: High school seniors steal the Chicken each year

1995: The Chicken Drive-In is sold and closes several years later

2007: A new version of the restaurant opens

Reporter Bill Sheets: 425-339-3439 or

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