As soon as he appears, so do his fans.
They come from all across town to snap a photo or just catch a glimpse of the local icon.
He doesn’t mind. All he has to do is stand in the middle of the road, and they’re astounded — plus, all the attention adds to his brand, which is fueled by a Facebook fan page and a merchandise line.
His name? Glenny, and he’s a wild turkey.
This 20-pound bird has built an empire in his hometown of Haddon Heights. With his energetic personality and social media-ready poses, he has brought the Camden County community together.
Glenny runs these streets. Well, at least one — Prospect Ridge Boulevard, a main road that connects the White Horse and Black Horse Pikes. He spends his mornings “directing traffic” on Prospect Ridge, or standing in the middle of the busy road with his feathers on full display. He moves for no one and intimidates the delivery trucks that dare to pass.
“You hear the turkey noise and just run to the window to spot him," said Katrina Klett, 24, who lives in a house that Glenny frequently visits. “Instead of ‘Where’s Waldo?’, it’s ‘Where’s Glenny?’”
“I always joke that we should get him a collar,” said Devin Stark, 24, who also lives on Prospect Ridge.
He’s frequently seen staring at his reflection in the side of Stark’s black Jeep and even tries to race her as she drives away.
“Nobody feeds him,” said Stark. “I don’t know why he chooses this road when there’s a whole park across the street."
Glenny mysteriously arrived in September, according to residents. There are three female turkeys that circle the area and a few more are scattered throughout the town. But none of them has as much spunk or notoriety as Glenny.
He was named by 9-year-old Gavin Gilliss, who would see the chonky bird “fabulously obstruct traffic," as Gavin’s dad, Matthew, put it, by standing in the middle of the road each morning, or sometimes helping the crossing guard, on his way to Glenview Avenue Elementary School.
“I said, if he was going to go through the trouble of showing up every morning to entertain us, then he should have a name,” Gilliss said. Gavin named him in honor of his school.
“I posted something on Facebook soon after, and the name seems to have stuck,” Gilliss said.
Gilliss specifically posted on the “Haddon Heights Turkey Talk” Facebook group, a private group with more than 730 members who post close to 10 times a day with photos of Glenny, other turkeys, and turkey-inspired memes.
“Here, it’s a sense of community,” said Korie Moore, who has three Glenny wannabes that frequent her backyard. “It’s people coming together for something lighthearted rather than arguing.”
People made magnets in his honor with the phrase “I like bold birds," and sold them on the Facebook page. The group had a “turkey photo contest” last month, in which residents submitted their favorite photo of Glenny, and the mayor voted on the best. The winner took home a turkey-theme gift basket.
Some even dressed up as Glenny for Halloween. Dan Angelino, 42, wore a turkey suit and chased a UPS truck.
The local Pretzel Factory created a version of Glenny accompanied by the words “Pardon me" for $10.
“In a weird way, you wouldn’t think a turkey would have this much of an impact on a town," Stark said.
New Jersey has from 20,000 to 23,000 wild turkeys, according to the state, and as the amount of open wooded area has diminished, it’s become more common to see them in the suburbs.
But life hasn’t always been easy for turkeys.
In the 16th century, close to 10 million wild turkeys wobbled and gobbled across North America. But as the human population grew, followed by over-hunting and deforestation, wild turkey populations dipped below 200,000, according to the National World Turkey Federation. By 1920, they had disappeared from 18 of the 39 states they originally occupied.
In the 1940s, the country began restoring the wild turkey population through farming and relocation, and by 1979, populations were back up to over 1.8 million. Today, the birds can be found in 49 states and the population is reaching 7 million.
There are so many of them that some towns are fed up. On average, New Jersey’s Division of Fish and Wildlife receives 106 complaints about nuisance turkeys each year, according to a spokesperson.
Toms River residents complain that the feathered flocks peck at their shiny cars and cause traffic jams. The fowl play even prompted a former major-league player to pipe up.
“They have come close to harming my family and friends, ruined my cars, trashed my yard, and much more,” wrote Todd Frazier, a former third baseman for the New York Yankees and Mets, on Twitter. Now, local officials are feeling pressured to relocate them.
Haddon Heights residents would never — the state has received only two complaints about turkeys in that area in the last five years.
But homeowners along Prospect Ridge do get fed up with the incessant honking from drivers asking the jerky turkey to move out of the street.
“People haven’t learned that he doesn’t move at all,” Katrina Klett said. “He really doesn’t do much besides eat and puff up."
What a life.
Still, Glenny hasn’t been able to convert his fan base away from eating turkey at Thanksgiving.
“I’m turkey over ham any day,” Klett said.