Smells of the sugary sweetness of cotton candy, french fry oil, suntan lotion, the sounds of merry-go-rounds and carnival game barkers and the sights of boardwalk jugglers can transport many of us to the Jersey Shore.
And a veteran of laid-back family fun has brought his act to the sometimes-stuffy national capital region.
“I found the legendary New Jersey Birdman on the boardwalk in Wildwood,” said Eric Udler, producer of Super Pet Expo, which is at the Dulles Expo Center from Friday through Sunday.
Before he was the New Jersey Birdman, Bill Middleton was a city employee in the resort city of Wildwood, New Jersey — with a year-round population of 5,325, according to the 2010 U.S. Census.
“During the summers, everybody gets a side job, so I got one of these birds, and took it up on the boardwalk, and was using them for photographs,” said Middleton. “Then I realized how smart they are — they’ve got the intelligence of a three-year-old.”
Eventually, the Birdman took his act off the boardwalk.
“It started on the beach, but we had to stop, because Macaw parrots, if you notice, they’re kinda white, so therefore they get very, very sunburned,” Middleton said.
Now, Molly, Polly and Dolly are in their 20s, and they’ve learned to play basketball, go shopping and ride bicycles, among other things.
“People seem to like them, because they are so calm,” said Middleton, rocking one of the docile Macaws in his arms.
After appearances on Animal Planet and Discovery Channel, Middleton said the macaws aren’t shy or scared of people.
“That’s one of the reasons birds talk,” Middleton said. “They like the attention.”
And, in true barker fashion, Udler adds: “You can get your picture taken with them at the show.”
The Super Pet Expo welcomes leashed pets. Admission is $13 for adults, children between 4 and 12 are $8 and children age 3 and under are free.