Vetter attends eagle festival with ‘peeps’

Published 2:41 pm Saturday, May 26, 2012

Linda Vetter and Edison the eagle mascot show the bumper sticker Vetter brought to Norfolk Botanical Garden’s in honor of a friend who was unable to attend the Garden’s first Eagle Festival.

Suffolk’s Linda Vetter took part recently in Norfolk Botanical Garden’s first Eagle Festival, which showcased this American national symbol with the help of many local, regional and national wildlife and eagle experts.

The event included arts and crafts, live music, food, prizes, Edison the eagle mascot and a live appearance from “Buddy,” an eagle ambassador hatched at the Garden.

Guests enjoyed wildlife demonstrations with live animals and birds by the Virginia Zoo and the Wildlife Center of Virginia. Special presenters at the Eagle Festival included Greg Bockheim, executive director of the Virginia Zoo, and Edward E. Clark, president of the Wildlife Center of Virginia. The three-day Eagle Symposium ran simultaneously during the Eagle Festival.

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Vetter belongs to Eagle Peeps, a Facebook group with more than 3,000 followers. The site was developed after the death of the female eagle last year — initially a place for support and comfort. Fans from various parts of the country came together to honor the mother eagle and in the process developed life-long friendships.

Though many of the Eagle Peeps wanted to be present at the Festival, several were unable to attend, including Linda’s friend Sherry Widmer who lives in New York. Linda brought her friend to the Eagle Festival and symposium in sprit and in an imaginary pocket of sorts. Her friend and many others are known as pocket people (peeps).

Vetter modified a bumper sticker that displayed her friend’s name, along with a profile photograph.

“Peeps are spread out across the country and, indeed, around the world,” Vetter said. “Many will never get to visit NBG to see the gardens and eagles, yet our common love for both has created bonds of friendship that will last forever. Being able to bring them in our pockets, purses, backpacks, or bags is a way of demonstrating that unity in our love for bald eagles and each other.”

Besides seeing “Buddy” in person, Vetter said one of the best parts of the day was when a group of peeps gathered at the Renaissance Court. The WVEC-TV Eagle cam that is normally positioned over the eagle’s nest was angled over the group as they waved to all of the other peeps watching on the Eagle Cam.

The moderator known as Shoebutton on the WVEC Eagle Cam chat room site, received a special message as she was moderating during the festival. The peeps held cards spelling out a greeting to Shoebutton in appreciation for her dedication.