PAPER TRAILS: City embraces mysterious blackbird deaths; Arkansas ranked 49th-happiest

Posted: September 16, 2018 at 4:30 a.m.

WING FLING: When thousands of blackbirds mysteriously fell out of Beebe skies years ago, it had the makings of a fowl public relations fiasco.

But now the White County city is embracing the incident in a chirpy manner.

Kicking off the Beebe Fall Festival at 9 a.m. Saturday will be the first Fallin' Blackbird 5K (full details at beebechamberofcommerce.com). Its logo -- on race T-shirts and medals -- features an illustration of a dead, belly-up blackbird with its feet in the air and an "X" as his eye.

"When you Google Beebe, one of the first things that pops up is the blackbirds," says Mindi Rice, executive director of the Beebe Chamber of Commerce. "So it's kind of like claiming what you're famous for. We're taking an unfortunate event and turning it into a fun event for families, businesses, everybody who wants to participate. And we're just, in a way, honoring the memory of the birds."

And no one appears to have their feathers ruffled; rather, people seem to think the idea is fly.

"Everybody has just embraced it," Rice says, adding, "A lot of runners from out of town are coming just simply because they want the shirt and the medal."

As for the number of participants, she says, they projected, "'It would be great if we could get 100.' And then it just seemed to grow and grow and grow, and now we're up to 215. And we know there are still some businesses that are putting teams together that haven't registered yet, so we're looking at ... maybe reaching the 250 mark.

"And for a small-town first event, that is phenomenal."

Given the success of this Fallin' Blackbird 5K, expect another one "nest" year.

GLEE STUDY: WalletHub recently released its "2018 Happiest States in America" list.

And we're not happy about it.

According to the study, which lists Arkansas as the 49th-happiest -- or the second-most miserable after West Virginia -- we're not happy about anything.

The study (wallethub.com/edu/happiest-states/6959/) "looked at 31 key metrics, ranging from depression rate to sports participation rate to income growth."

When it comes to activity, Arkansas doesn't even get a participation trophy; we had the lowest sports involvement rate.

Also worth noting: Arkansas had the third-highest share of adult depression.

And for that, we blame WalletHub -- for bumming us out with such studies.

Email: jchristman@arkansasonline.com

SundayMonday on 09/16/2018