The Whidbey Island Chicken meets young fan, Aria Smith, and her dad, Josiah, on Saturday morning in Oak Harbor. Emily Gilbert/Whidbey News-Times

The Whidbey Island Chicken meets young fan, Aria Smith, and her dad, Josiah, on Saturday morning in Oak Harbor. Emily Gilbert/Whidbey News-Times

Winging it

Why did the chicken cross the road? To get you to crack a smile.

An interview with the Whidbey Island Chicken was full of a dozen poultry puns, after the initial clucking subsided.

The chicken man — or Chucky Chicken as he named himself — has captured the attention of joggers, drivers and most everyone else on North Whidbey. There is even a Facebook group that has almost 400 members who share sightings of the big bird.

An intrepid reporter found that getting in touch with the mysterious poultry meant working through some back channels, for the chicken wants to keep up the mystery. Seth Moody, a member of the aforementioned Facebook group, said he cracked the chicken’s identity after following him around one day.

“I wouldn’t say (we are) friends, but he is a friend if you know what I mean,” said Moody.

He offered to put the Whidbey News-Times in contact with the enigmatic bird from Oak Harbor.

“Now I’ve become somewhat of a chicken-man whisperer,” Moody said.

One does not contact the Whidbey Island Chicken for an interview directly; the chicken finds you. He said he did not intend to become famous when he bought the 8-foot-tall inflatable costume before Halloween.

“I happened to find a chicken costume that looked exactly like the chickens in the ‘Legend of Zelda’ game,” the chicken said.

While he was testing it out by walking around his neighborhood, some people took pictures of him. One person posted a video of him struggling to walk uphill, and a star was hatched.

“I want to lie and say I didn’t see this coming, but we’ve been kind of hung up on our social media,” he said of his new-found fame.

The 34-year-old said he came to the island for his job two years ago, and he is originally from Iowa. He said he thinks he will be here for about six months longer before he must fly the coop.

So far he’s enjoyed his alter-eggo.

“The best part of it all is the mystery,” he said. “Apparently someone had said that I’m the Sasquatch of Whidbey Island — you know he’s out there, but you just can’t get a picture of him.”

There are a few things he wanted to clear up for his fans: It’s warm enough to stew in his own juices inside the costume and the wind is the chicken’s biggest weakness.

“A lot of people do not realize just how hot that costume gets,” he said. “It’s made of the same material as camping tents. Basically, you’re walking around in your own sauna.”

Because of the costume’s massive size, being out in the weather isn’t always a breeze.

“The wind managed to pick me up about three feet in the air and I landed on my side,” he said.

Daniel Johnson, self-described “chicken handler” and a friend of the man inside the suit, said he appreciates his feathered friend’s effect on the community.

“I see a lot of happiness. It’s been pretty exciting to track on Facebook,” he said.

This year has been hard for everyone, but the chicken had some parting, cheerful words for those who find themselves brooding over their problems:

“We know this year has been a little foul, but we need to look at the sunny side up.”

The Whidbey Island Chicken has become somewhat of a local celebrity in recent months, with many fans like Fernando Duran asking for a picture whenever they catch a glimpse. Photo by Emily Gilbert/Whidbey News-Times

The Whidbey Island Chicken has become somewhat of a local celebrity in recent months, with many fans like Fernando Duran asking for a picture whenever they catch a glimpse. Photo by Emily Gilbert/Whidbey News-Times

Whidbey Island Chicken spotted in Oak Harbor crossing the road to get to the other side. Emily Gilbert/Whidbey News-Times

Whidbey Island Chicken spotted in Oak Harbor crossing the road to get to the other side. Emily Gilbert/Whidbey News-Times

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