LAKE STEVENS — The chicken is flying high once again.
The fiberglass fryer with a prank-pocked past spent Thursday suspended in a cage held aloft by a crane truck, 30 feet above the Lake Stevens High School parking lot.
It got some attention.
“I thought it was pretty amazing,” said junior Noble Larson, 17.
With a newer incarnation of the rooster stolen several months ago and still missing in action, two plucky Lake Stevens High School seniors took matters into their own hands.
They got a hold of the original bird, the poultry that perched atop the Chicken Drive-In from 1968 to 1995. Dave Huber, who acquired the rooster when he bought the drive-in property, gave his permission.
“I just wanted it to come back and show up at the high school once again before I’m out of here,” said senior Caleb Hinds, 18.
Hinds’ father not only gave his blessing to the idea of retrieving the chicken, but loaned his son the flatbed crane truck to accomplish the mission.
“He’s kind of stoked about it,” Hinds said of his dad.
In 1969, Lake Stevens High School seniors began a tradition of burglarizing the bird the from atop the Chicken Drive-In and putting it on display at end-of-the-year events.
Hinds’ father, Lee, was in the class of 1969. Caleb’s older sister was in the class of 2002 when the prank was pulled then, he said.
“I just wanted to keep the family tradition a little bit,” Hinds said.
Last year, Lake Stevens grad Trisha Akerlund bought the former Viking Drive-In in downtown Lake Stevens and renamed it the Chicken Drive-In, after the old Frontier Village eatery. She ordered up a replica chicken to help keep the tradition alive, making it easier for students to “borrow” and return. She kept the bird bolted to the ground just outside her business.
In February, the chicken was stolen but not returned. The case has yet to be solved. That capon caper, at least temporarily, has kept Akerlund from having to make a difficult decision about whether to keep the chicken on display. The city of Lake Stevens told her it violated the city’s sign code because it also is displayed in combination with two other signs on the building.
Though Huber shut down the original Chicken Drive-In after buying it from longtime owner Jean Kiniry, he’s kept the first rooster stored on his property in Sedro-Woolley, loaning it out to students when they’ve asked.
Huber’s wife, Rhonda, is Hinds’ second cousin.
Hinds had some encouragement for the prank from his friend Trevor Brovold, 18.
“I told him we should do it,” Brovold said.
About three weeks ago, the two picked up the chicken. They spray-painted “08” in black and white on the rooster’s behind and the same in purple and white, two of the school’s colors, on its chest. They’ll paint it back the way it was before returning it, Hinds said.
Early Thursday morning, they brought the bird to the school on the flatbed crane truck and cranked it up into the air.
It got mostly positive reviews from fellow students.
“I love it,” said senior Ben Akins, 18.
“I think it’s awesome,” said senior Brandon Schroder, 18.
Lucy Wyles, 17, Brovold’s girlfriend, said students were taking photos of the bird with their cell phones and cameras.
“Nobody really knows what to say about it,” she said.
Some weren’t so impressed.
“It happens every year, it’s getting irritating,” said J.J. Paulino, 18.
Hinds hedged when asked if the bird would be back today for the last day of classes. He said he’d like to bring it to the senior dance at the Nile Country Club in Mountlake Terrace and graduation at the Everett Events Center, but he’s not sure if he can pull it off.
Hinds said he got a lot of compliments on the prank from his friends.
“I’ve been on my phone a lot,” he said.
Reporter Bill Sheets: 425-339-3439 or firstname.lastname@example.org.