Mike the Headless Chicken
It was September, 1945. The Second World War had been won. The Great Depression was over. Americans could finally have a chicken in every pot.
But Mike had other ideas.
Mike was a Wyandotte rooster. A Fruita farmer named Lloyd Olsen cut off Mike's head on September 10. Mike ran around like a chicken without a head, but he didn't die. There was just enough brainy stemmy stuff left at the top of the neck to keep him going.
Mike lived for 18 months. His owner kept him alive by feeding him grain, one piece at a time, through the hole where his head used to be. He drank from an eye-dropper. Olsen got him in Life magazine, called him "Miracle Mike," and dispatched him on a tour of the country, charging people a quarter to take a peek.
Mike eventually choked to death on a kernel of corn in an Arizona motel room, far from home -- an end not so different from other candle-in-the-wind celebrities such as Janis Joplin and John Belushi. No one knows where Mike is buried.
But that hasn't stopped Fruita from "cere-brating" its most famous fowl. The Mike The Headless Chicken Festival is the town's annual highlight. T-shirts are available, and the Festival website displays photos of the real Mike.
On the corner of Mulberry and Aspen in Fruita is a statue of Mike, maybe five feet tall, an artistic rendition made of old metal implements such as horse shoes and hand tools. It's on a street with other sculptures that have nothing to do with headless chickens. If you didn't know the Mike story, you might walk right past the piece.
Fruita has a better statue, a twenty-foot-tall dinosaur. It's at the entrance to downtown in a grassy park, menacing the road. That's where a Mike the Headless Chicken should eventually stand, and it should be as big as a Thunder Lizard. Many towns have dinosaurs, but only one has a headless chicken.