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Fallen geese mourned as community fixtures at Halifax memorial

Last Updated Aug 13, 2017 at 4:20 pm EDT

A gaggle of domestic white geese is seen at Sullivan's Pond in Dartmouth, N.S. on Friday, Aug. 11, 2017. Dozens of mourners marched in the rain to pay their respects to two foul-tempered fixtures of a Halifax community — a pair of geese who were run down at a crosswalk.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan

HALIFAX – Dozens of mourners marched in the rain to pay their respects to two foul-tempered fixtures of a Halifax community — a pair of geese who were run down at a crosswalk.

They braved a downpour Saturday evening in Dartmouth to memorialize the fallen geese of Sullivan’s Pond, in the heart of the Halifax suburb.

“It feels like a small tear in our spirit, and a little bit of loss,” organizer Katy Jean eulogized. “Our geese are not just the geese. They’re part of the community.”

A musician crooned “Blackbird” by The Beatles in honour of the white birds before the memorial procession made its way to the intersection where the feathered pedestrians met their end.

Memorial attendees fastened flowers to poles on either side of a crosswalk where the geese were killed.

The duo was part of a gaggle of nine geese known to lazily waddle across the street, often during rush hour, oblivious to waiting cars as they finish sunbathing and make their way back to the pond.

Three of the geese were hit by a motorist last week, with one surviving, police said. No charges have been laid against the driver.

Some Dartmouth residents said the deaths raise concerns about road safety in the area.

Christine Ward-Paige said she often sees cars driving recklessly as she and her two kids use the same crosswalk on their way to school.

“The geese for me are just a talking point … for a bigger issue,” Ward-Paige said. “Hopefully we can learn from this and try to protect our families.”

Other parents fondly recalled taking their children to see the geese, warning them to hide their fingers from the testy birds.

“They’re territorial,” said John Hines, who has known the birds for 35 years. “(When) my son was a very young boy, they used to snap at his toes.”

Jean, who is known for her Twitter poems, said the birds are attuned to Dartmouth’s rhythms — warning of winter with their southern migration, and signalling summer upon their return.

She said as the birds make their routine crossings to and from the water, they have seen walkers become runners, parents go from pushing strollers to wrangling toddlers and night owls stumbling home after one beer too many.

The birds have been featured in the backdrop of countless prom pictures, Jean said, and “immortalized” by local artists, including a fowl recreation of The Beatles stroll across Abbey Road.

Saturday’s “light-hearted memorial” was met with some degree of online backlash, Jean said, but she never meant to attract attention, she just wanted to mourn the geese that perished and celebrate the seven that remain.

“We all individually appreciate the geese, but I truly hope they appreciate us as well,” she said. “Let’s watch them a little bit longer, wonder what it would be like to pat them for a little bit, and smile at their laid-back waddle.”

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