Peacock feathers used to make halloween costume

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The tail feathers of a family’s pet peacocks are turned over to a friend who has made them into children’s costumes to be auctioned for charity.

By Lisa King

A Shelby County family is proud that feathers from their pet peacocks will be donated to charity, with a little help from a friend.


Feathers from “Opal,” “Junior” and “Petie” have been incorporated into a child’s Halloween costume that will be auctioned off Saturday night at the annual fundraiser for the Shelbyville Rotary Club.

Dr. Tim Lee, a local chiropractor who is a past president of the Rotary Club, has owned the birds for several years, and he said he and his family were delighted when a friend offered to make the outfit, using the feathers as a base.

Lee said this bird-brained idea started when his son, Ryan, a third-grader at Cornerstone Christian Academy, where Tim Lee is the board chairman, started collecting the birds’ feathers as a hobby, and a neighbor asked to buy some for a wedding she was planning.

“Shortly after that, our long-time friend and costume designer, Jamie James, heard that he was selling his feathers and asked to get in on the action,” Tim Lee said. “Jamie had been buying feathers off the Internet already for costumes she was making. Jamie is very creative and talented. Her son is actually a special effects artist in Hollywood that has worked on movies like the Hobbit and TV shows such as CSI and Three and a Half Men.”

James, a branch manager for Chase Bank in Shelbyville who is just starting her own costume-making business, said she did not want to be in the limelight at all.

“I want this to be all about the Lees,” she said.

Lee said his kids, Ryan, 8, Lexi, 7, a first-grader at Cornerstone, and even 2-year-old Lucy, are very excited about their peacocks’ feathers being used in a costume to be included in the Rotary auction.

“I bring my kids to the auction each year, they are excited this year to feel like they are contributing to such a worthy cause,” he said.

The auction, which raised $25,000 last year, is Rotary’s main fundraiser, and the organization uses the money they raise to fund various projects, such as giving out county-wide scholarships, donating money to parks and recreation, and sending kids to leadership development camp. 


Snake-killers, too

Lee said the feathers used for the costume came from two of his birds. Peahens do not have what Lee calls “showy” feathers.

“All our current peacocks were all born and raised on our farm here on Rockbridge [Road],” he said.

He said the family received their first pair of peacocks from a friend in Todds Point as a house-warming gift when they moved to their farm eight years ago.

 “They are natural watchdogs and have been known to kill any unwanted varmints ranging from mice and rats to small possum and even snakes,” he said. “It was the snake aspect that got my wife, Lisa, wanting them in the first place.”

Lee said his peacocks are free-range birds in the truest sense.

“They roost in the barn rafters at night and are free to roam the farm by day,” he said. “They molt their tail feathers in late summer every year. The kids get so excited to hunt for their feathers. It is almost like an Easter egg hunt.

“My daughter Lexi has gotten into the act of collecting over the last year. They now make it into a contest to see who can find more tail feathers with the eyes [designs]. But they collect them all, because Jamie takes all that they find.”


A lot of pride

On Saturday Lexi Lee will be modeling the feather-made costume.

“Lexi said that she loves the costume because it makes her feel pretty as a peacock to wear it,” he said. “Ryan, on the other hand, is just proud as a peacock to have his feathers used in a costume that will be sold at his dad's auction.”

Although James says all the credit should go to the Lees for donating the feathers, Lee said she is being too modest.

“The donation of her time and talent to create the peacock costume was all her idea,” he said. “She knew how passionate I am about Rotary and just wanted to help out. I didn't even ask her to. She has a heart of gold.”