Juneauites lined up to have their photos taken with a live turkey Wednesday, in what the event’s organizer hopes will become an annual event.
Juneau-Douglas High School: Yadaa.at Kalé math teacher Caplan Anderson started the event this year as a way to raise money for the school’s agriculture club. Normally, the club would have a bake sale, Anderson said, which in the past have been very successful. But that was canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Customers could choose from a “menu” of options of donations to make for the photoshoot. The recommended donation for a simple photoshoot alongside the turkey was $5 per person, but the menu also had options for donations of $20, $100 or $500.
A $20 donation paid for “turkey offsets” for those looking for a more turkey-neutral lifestyle. For $100, the “one-year pardon” goes toward the $450 it takes to feed JDHS’ turkeys. A full pardon option was available for $500.
The event was a fundraiser for JDHS’s IGNITE vocational training programs. The photos were taken in a small outdoor storage area just outside an underground parking lot. The school has several chickens, a turkey and rabbits for students to look after.
Anderson said he started an agriculture club at the school because it was one of the vocations that did not have a corresponding class.
“It’s not a Juneau thing but its an American thing,” he said. “A lot of people in Juneau have never seen a turkey.”
The agriculture club gave Juneau students an experience they might not otherwise get, Anderson said, and gave students moving to the area from out of state something familiar.
Most of the patrons were families with small children, some of whom were not as enthralled by the large bird as their parents were.
Amy Balagna brought her 4-year-old, Clara, for a photo and to help support the program. Clara didn’t want to get too close to the bird, but said she had fun taking the picture. Before they came, Clara was under the impression she needed to bring her own turkey for the shoot, Balagna said.
Julia Barrientes came with her two daughters, Ramona, 9, and Ahnkaawoo, 10, to have their picture taken.
“Mommy wanted us to,” Ramona said almost in unison with her sister, adding she was somewhat afraid the bird would chase her.
“I thought it would be fun, I’ve never had a picture with a turkey,” Barrientes said with a laugh.
The star bird was not one of JDHS’, but one kept by the family of agriculture club student Ashlynn King, who raises the birds for meat.
“He’s great with people and (JDHS’s) turkeys aren’t big or nice,” King said of the bird. “I’ve never seen a turkey so friendly.”
Male turkey are known as a Tom, King said, and this particular bird was about six months old. He was also about a week away from becoming dinner, she said.
This particular Tom’s friendliness didn’t give King much pause when discussing the bird’s schedule for next week.
Especially “when you see how much of a mess they make, and the smells they make,” King said.
• Contact reporter Peter Segall at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at @SegallJnuEmpire.