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Reward being offered for missing ‘Elf-Mingo’

By Staff | Dec 23, 2008

Judy and Sharon Michie want to know: Have you seen Elf-Mingo?

Described as 20 inches tall, a pink body with black eyes, “Elf-Mingo” — actually a traditional Florida flamingo dressed up in festive garb — was abducted last Saturday from his holiday flock in front of Cottages To Castles, located at 2427 Periwinkle Way in Sanibel.

Last seen wearing a red and green jacket with matching elf cap and ears, Elf-Mingo was abducted without his wiry legs.

“Elf-Mingo is helpless without his legs!” exclaims a poster offering a reward for his safe return.

“I think they took him without his legs so they could smuggle him through airport security,” said Judy Michie, as she asked passing tourists to keep their eyes open when they returned to the airport at the conclusion of their vacation. “There can’t be very many pink flamingos going through security there.”

Elf-Mingo was discovered missing on Dec. 20 around 12:30 p.m., said Michie, when her daughter Sharon, Cottages To Castles’ proprietor, went out to check the mail.

“She came back in screaming that someone had stolen Elf-Mingo!” recalled Michie. Right away, the police were called.

When asked if the vandals had attacked overnight, Michie said that Elf-Mingo had last been seen at 10:30 a.m. Saturday.

“This was a daytime heist!” she exclaimed. “You don’t hear much about vandalism in Sanibel, but I think that’s because people don’t report it, or they think it’s unimportant. Everyone needs to report these kinds of things.”

The holiday plastic pink flamingo flock in front of Cottages To Castles

has been assembled for the past two years at Halloween, Thanksgiving and

Christmas by Sharon and Judy Michie, who is a self-described “collector of all things flamingo.” Flamingo stuffed animals dressed in holiday garb sing and dance on the Cottages To Castles front counter, while Michie works away in her flamingo-printed holiday vest.

“It’s just a lot of fun,” she said, before expressing sadness at the loss of Elf-Mingo. “Imagine how all the other little rein-lingos, and elf-ming, and Santa-Mingo and Mrs. Santa-Mingo feel.”

Michie said millions of photographs of the holiday flock must be circulating the globe, judging from the number of tourists who stop by every day to take a picture.

“People come in every day, disappointed that we’re not selling them,” she said. “But they’re members of the family!”

That family includes eight tiny rein-mingos, two elf-mingos and Mr. and Mrs. Santa-Mingo, said Michie. Now, the SCI (Christmas Scene Investigations) Sanibel team, overseen by Halloween’s scary black Skele-Mingo, work within a slightly altered holiday display, festooned with crime scene ribbon and posted with notices concerning Elf-Mingo’s disappearance.

“We’re distraught,” said Michie, adding that they had not yet received any correspondence from the thief or thieves asking for ransom.

Michie also said that she and her daughter are now considering the implantation of GPS devices to track the whereabouts of their holiday flock in the future.

“Some of those companies are offering their services to churches and synagogues for free,” said Michie, who has obviously done her homework on the subject.

For information on the reward, or to provide a tip concerning the whereabouts of the missing Elf-Mingo, contact Sharon or Judy Michie at Cottages To Castles by calling 1-800-472-5385.

And Michie warns anyone who may want to claim a reward with a fraudulent bird, “They’ve all been tattooed, so we’ll know if it’s really Elf-Mingo or not!”