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Sandy the Swan: The personification of old-fashioned fun

Saturday, July 20th, 2013 | Posted by

Sandy the Swan graciously offer rides as competitors race for the finish line on wine-barrel steeds in 2012. (Photo: Cheryl Brooks)

A 1909 photograph of a large swan sweeping down the Russian River captured the hearts of Healdsburg’s residents as a 2011 rendition of the iconic swan came to life. Sandy tells us in her own words how she came into being, and how she represents Healdsburg and the Sonoma County Regional Parks at events throughout the county.

How did you come to life, Sandy?

My parents — Shaun McCaffery, Ron Keeley, Adam Burns, Rick Mercer, Patty Murphy-Mercer and Robert Weiss — came together in 2011 to bring me to life, after a photo of my great-great grandmother caught the eye of 4th District Supervisor Mike McGuire. Of course, they all loved my beautiful ancestor. Who wouldn’t think we’re simply gorgeous? Grandma’s image put the cygnet of an idea in Mike’s head, then Shaun and his group of imaginative cohorts brought me to life.

How did they do that?

You’d have to ask Shaun for the details.  I can’t worry my pretty head about the particulars. I’m too busy being gorgeous for my adoring public. I have all these wonderful outfits for my appearances. Cheryl Brooks, my stylist, is au courant about how a statuesque swan must dress to get the attention she deserves. Cheryl says that Shaun has “raised a wonderful girl.” How flattering is that?

Tell me about your outfits.

Well, first I just wore my flowery lei and Sonoma County Regional Parks medallion. The simple design shows off the graceful curve of my neck. I love all my outfits, but pretty flowers are the adornment that best shows off my white plumage and grace. Swans are always beautiful, don’t you agree?

My parents were so excited about me that they decided I needed to go to the Handcar Regatta in September 2011. Cheryl knew that a well-dressed swan didn’t appear at a Victorian “steam punk” event without wearing Victorian grunge. I was glorious in racing goggles made out of Mason jar rings, a lovely lace collar to give me that antique feeling and, of course, my Sonoma County Regional Parks medallion with a wire ruffle around it. I slowly took my gorgeous figure down the track with handsome men caressing my body.

I won “most artistic” float when I wowed them at the River Revival in Petaluma in 2011, but Shaun was awarded the prize. That doesn’t seem fair now, does it? I woo the world and he accepts the glory.

What other events have you attended?

I’m all about being in the middle of anything happening in Sonoma County. At the Steelhead Festival, I showed those smelly fish who really draws the crowds.  I have my own fishing license, so I can bring home the trout any day.  In my fishing hat with lures, I go fishing. Those fish tremble when they see me.

I’m an environmentalist, too. I rest on more than 300 recycled water bottles, and my Styrofoam was recycled by Robert Weiss. It’s fitting that “the beautiful face of Sonoma County Regional Parks” be environmentally oriented, don’t you think?

And what does your future hold?

On July 27, I’ll be the star of the show again at the Healdsburg Water Carnival from 11 a.m.–3 p.m., although I’ve heard that my parents are working on another float – the traitors! It’s supposed to be a secret,  but I can tell you it’s a pirate ship. I hope it sinks like a stone.

  • Mary Jo Winter

    Only YOU could get an exclusive “scoop” like this from a swan, Ann!

    • acarranza

      Of course, Mary Jo! Interviewing birds is a new specialty of mine.

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Ann Carranza,
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