Flint, MI—Don’t be alarmed if you see hay-stuffed figures, clad in sparkly hats and local businesses’ t-shirts, tending the doors of businesses down University Avenue—unless you’re a crow, that is.

Local residents, the Flint Downtown Development Authority (DDA) and Kettering students together are ringing in the fall with the 3rd annual Scarecrow Convention, steadily expanding the tradition that began in the Glendale Hills neighborhood to more parts of Flint, Mich.

The Glendale Hills Neighborhood Association, headed by Steve Lowry at the time, started the Scarecrow Convention in 2020 as a way to foster a sense of community during the Covid-19 pandemic.

“They’re a riot; they really are,” said Sue Goering, vice president of the Glendale Hills Neighborhood Association’s board. “They’re hilarious.”

The tradition has since grown. This year, the association and its partners are bringing roughly 80 hand-made scarecrows to homes and businesses in Glendale Hills, the University Avenue corridor, downtown Flint and Kettering’s campus.

Sharon Bradley, president of the Glendale Hills Neighborhood Association’s board, clips safety pins to a scarecrow at the Mott Park Recreation Area in Flint, Mich. on Friday, Sept. 30, 2022. (Michael Indriolo | Flint Beat)
Sharon Bradley, president of the Glendale Hills Neighborhood Association’s board, clips safety pins to a scarecrow at the Mott Park Recreation Area in Flint, Mich. on Friday, Sept. 30, 2022. (Michael Indriolo | Flint Beat)
John Alderman, a Glendale Hills residents, stuffs a pair of pants with hay at the Mott Park Recreation Area in Flint, Mich. on Friday, Sept. 30, 2022. (Michael Indriolo | Flint Beat)

The idea for the project originally came from Lowry back in 2020. Keep Genesee County Beautiful had some grant funding for community projects amid the pandemic, and the funding had to be used up by the end of Sept. 2020.

“When [Lowry’s] father died, he had all his dad’s clothes,” said Sharon Bradley, president of the Glendale Hills Neighborhood Association’s board. “I don’t know how he put all this together, but he started looking up how to make scarecrows.”

The convention took off in Glendale Hills after its first year. The association put together about 65 scarecrows last year solely for Glendale Hills, Bradley said. Although Lowry, once president of the Glendale Hills Neighborhood Association’s board, has moved out of the neighborhood in the years since the Scarecrow Convention began, he came back to help out again this year.

Aiesha Lewis (center), the event coordinator at the Flint Downtown Development Authority, builds scarecrows with Sue Goering (left) and John Alderman (right), both residents of the Glendale Hills neighborhood, at the Mott Park Recreation Area in Flint, Mich. on Friday, Sept. 30, 2022. (Michael Indriolo | Flint Beat)
A finished scarecrow sits in a chair at the Mott Park Recreation Area in Flint, Mich. on Friday, Sept. 30, 2022. (Michael Indriolo | Flint Beat)
Aiesha Lewis (left), the event coordinator at the Flint Downtown Development Authority, and John Alderman (right), a resident of the Glendale Hills neighborhood, build scarecrows at the Mott Park Recreation Area in Flint, Mich. on Friday, Sept. 30, 2022. (Michael Indriolo | Flint Beat)
Aiesha Lewis, the event coordinator at the Flint Downtown Development Authority, poses for a portrait while fitting a shirt onto a scarecrow at the Mott Park Recreation Area in Flint, Mich. on Friday, Sept. 30, 2022. (Michael Indriolo | Flint Beat)

The DDA joined on the project last year, bringing a few scarecrows to downtown. Expect even more this year, said the DDA’s event coordinator Aiesha Lewis. She hopes to spread the convention to more neighborhoods around downtown, too, she said.

“It’s really just a way to kind of bring a sense of community to Flint,” Lewis said.

In addition to the DDA, Kettering joined the project for the first time this year, bringing out about 50 students to help build scarecrows as part of the university’s orientation for new students. Hundreds more students helped out with other community service projects, too, as a way to get them involved and acclimated to Flint, said Jack Stock, the director of external relations at Kettering.

“They’re going to be in positions of leadership in the future,” Stock said. “We have to help develop in them an ethic that you have to give back to your community. Civic responsibility is critical.”

Susan Sullivan, a resident of the Glendale Hills Neighborhood Association, adds the final decorations to a scarecrow at the Mott Park Recreation Area in Flint, Mich. on Friday, Sept. 30, 2022. (Michael Indriolo | Flint Beat)
Finished scarecrows rest on a trailer at the Mott Park Recreation Area in Flint, Mich. on Friday, Sept. 30, 2022. (Michael Indriolo | Flint Beat)
In-progress scarecrows rest on a shelf in the Mott Park Recreation Area in Flint, Mich. on Friday, Sept. 30, 2022. (Michael Indriolo | Flint Beat)
Hay-stuffed stockings rest in the sunlight at the Mott Park Recreation Area in Flint, Mich. on Friday, Sept. 30, 2022. (Michael Indriolo | Flint Beat)
Susan Sullivan, a resident of the Glendale Hills Neighborhood Association, adds the final decorations to a scarecrow at the Mott Park Recreation Area in Flint, Mich. on Friday, Sept. 30, 2022. (Michael Indriolo | Flint Beat)
In-progress scarecrows rest on the ground at the Mott Park Recreation Area in Flint, Mich. on Friday, Sept. 30, 2022. (Michael Indriolo | Flint Beat)
Steve Lowry, a former resident of the Glendale Hills neighborhood, builds wooden posts to hold scarecrows up at the Mott Park Recreation Area in Flint, Mich. on Friday, Sept. 30, 2022. (Michael Indriolo | Flint Beat)
Steve Lowry, a former resident of the Glendale Hills neighborhood, lines up finished wooden posts to hold scarecrows up at the Mott Park Recreation Area in Flint, Mich. on Friday, Sept. 30, 2022. (Michael Indriolo | Flint Beat)
Steve Lowry, a former resident of the Glendale Hills neighborhood, builds wooden posts to hold scarecrows up at the Mott Park Recreation Area in Flint, Mich. on Friday, Sept. 30, 2022. (Michael Indriolo | Flint Beat)
Steve Lowry, a former resident of the Glendale Hills neighborhood, builds wooden posts to hold scarecrows up at the Mott Park Recreation Area in Flint, Mich. on Friday, Sept. 30, 2022. (Michael Indriolo | Flint Beat)
James West loads bails of hay into his car at the Mott Park Recreation Area in Flint, Mich. on Friday, Sept. 30, 2022. (Michael Indriolo | Flint Beat)
Kettering University students gather at the Mott Park Recreation Area in Flint, Mich. to begin building scarecrows on Saturday, Oct. 1, 2022. (Michael Indriolo | Flint Beat)
Kettering University students Dylyn Nichols (right), Meadow Mardlin (center), and Juliana Knoll (left) add hair and a sparkly hat to a scarecrow, “yassifying” it, they said, at the Mott Park Recreation Area in Flint, Mich. on Saturday, Oct. 1, 2022. (Michael Indriolo | Flint Beat)
Kettering University students Nicholas Buerkle (left) and Sam Kneebone (right) clip safety pins to a scarecrow at the Mott Park Recreation Area in Flint, Mich. on Saturday, Oct. 1, 2022. (Michael Indriolo | Flint Beat)
Kettering University students Nicholas Buerkle (left) and Danielle Didia (right) clip safety pins to a scarecrow at the Mott Park Recreation Area in Flint, Mich. on Saturday, Oct. 1, 2022. (Michael Indriolo | Flint Beat)
Kettering University students Dylyn Nichols (left) and Meadow Mardlin (right) add lips to a scarecrow, “yassifying” it, they said, at the Mott Park Recreation Area in Flint, Mich. on Saturday, Oct. 1, 2022. (Michael Indriolo | Flint Beat)
Kettering University students Ian Rafferty (left) and Andrew Landers (right) add a hat to a scarecrow at the Mott Park Recreation Area in Flint, Mich. on Saturday, Oct. 1, 2022. (Michael Indriolo | Flint Beat)
Kettering University students attach scarecrows to posts at the Mott Park Recreation Area in Flint, Mich. on Saturday, Oct. 1, 2022. (Michael Indriolo | Flint Beat)
Kettering University student Ian Rafferty hugs a scarecrow after finishing decorating it at the Mott Park Recreation Area in Flint, Mich. on Saturday, Oct. 1, 2022. (Michael Indriolo | Flint Beat)
A Kettering University student places scarecrows against a fence at the Mott Park Recreation Area in Flint, Mich. on Saturday, Oct. 1, 2022. (Michael Indriolo | Flint Beat)
A scarecrow rests on the ground at the Mott Park Recreation Area in Flint, Mich. on Saturday, Oct. 1, 2022. (Michael Indriolo | Flint Beat)
Kettering University students Ian Rafferty (left) and Andrew Landers (right) glue a pirate bandana to a scarecrow at the Mott Park Recreation Area in Flint, Mich. on Saturday, Oct. 1, 2022. (Michael Indriolo | Flint Beat)
Scarecrows sit at a picnic table outside of Sal’s Gym in Flint, Mich. on Monday, Oct. 3, 2022. (Michael Indriolo | Flint Beat)
Scarecrows sit outside the entrance to The Local Grocer in Flint, Mich. on Monday, Oct. 3, 2022. (Michael Indriolo | Flint Beat)
A scarecrow sits outside of the Elle Jae Essentials Skincare Boutique in Flint, Mich. on Monday, Oct. 3, 2022. (Michael Indriolo | Flint Beat)
Scarecrows stand outside the entrance to Easterseals Michigan in Flint, Mich. on Monday, Oct. 3, 2022. (Michael Indriolo | Flint Beat)