The Chicken infamous
or a community tradition?
Grade Road was exceptionally pretty with its green grass and flowers starting to bloom. Just when you passed the fire station your eye beheld another sight a colorful, ten foot chicken with a sign around its neck stating, “Free the Chicken.”
Many students walking home from school stopped to ask just exactly what that meant.
“Well, the city doesn’t want to give a permit to put the chicken up on the new Chicken Drive-In,” said Don Dickinson, owner of Lake Stevens Body Shop and the creator of the new chicken, a replica of the original.
The original chicken has been around since the 1960’s and is currently owned by Huber Real Estate. It was traditionally stolen every year from atop another fast food drive-in which was located in Frontier Village.
Every year the high school seniors would steal the chicken as a homecoming or graduation prank and move it somewhere else in the community. It quickly became a tradition at Lake Stevens High School.
While some may think of the chicken as an eyesore, most are excited by the prospect of renewing an old tradition.
“My cousin once stole the chicken and I love the idea of carrying on a tradition,” Emilee Heiges, a middle school student said.
Emilee and her friends were passing by the chicken and wanted to take some pictures with their camera phones. They are worried the chicken may not get up on the roof of the new drive-in.
“Why call it the Chicken Drive-In if there’s no chicken?” Jered Shaner asked.
Most merchants in the downtown community seem to agree with the students that tradition is important to the community and brings a sense of camaraderie.
Rusty Fenrich of Main Street Coffee said he and his friends grew up in Lake Stevens and remember the “stealing of the chicken” fondly.
“It will be a great thing bringing back that tradition,” Fenrich said.
Many business owners feel it will help bring more people downtown and ultimately help their businesses too.
“We need something down here, another drive-in to bring people to downtown Lake Stevens,” said one business owner.
“I would help take the chicken up and down to be able to carry on the tradition,” Scott Stuart of Bike Works stated, “It will be a great thing bringing back that tradition,” adding that he knows that parents were concerned in the past about the safety of the students. “The city needs to let him put it up.”
Frank McDaniel, the owner of the chicken and the new Chicken Drive-In hasn’t yet applied for a permit from the City for the chicken. However, the City did give him a letter regarding the signage at the new drive-in.
“Based on the City’s code definition of a Sign, the Chicken would be considered a Sign, and would not be allowed,” the letter stated. Lake Stevens Municipal Code states that for all buildings, signs are not allowed upon any roof surface.
The sign that is now on the roof has been “grandfathered in” according to Jan Berg, City Administrator.
“We are getting ready to do a downtown redevelopment plan. The plan will include input from the community, if that’s what citizens want then we will look at that,” Berg said.
McDaniel realizes that the City is between a rock and hard place with his chicken.
“They told me they had a complaint. They are stuck in a bad spot. They told me they couldn’t legally put it up,” McDaniel said. “Unfortunately, one person complains and it makes it tough for the whole city,” he added.
McDaniel still wants to find a way for the students in the community to carry on a tradition that is a big part of growing up in Lake Stevens.
“People who have kids in high school want to see the tradition carry on and replay their youth through their kids. They like the whole idea of carrying on tradition. I’ll find something to do with the chicken,” McDaniel stated.