Black Squirrel

(Frank) Hey, we’re back. And you know we were just talking about traveling around the state of Kansas. And maybe across the northern edge and so Marysville has kind of a neat thing. (Deb) They do. You know, I had heard when I moved to Kansas…where I grew up in southwestern Virginia and northwest North Carolina the squirrels are grey, so we’ve got grey squirrels. My brother went squirrel hunting, so we ate squirrel. Mighty fine. Tastes like chicken. You know that? (Frank) Everything tastes like chicken. (Deb) Everything tastes like chicken. So, when I came to Kansas and you’ve got these brown squirrels, it was kind of…it seemed strange. Then people told me to go up to Marysville. And I’m like wow, what is this? Solid black squirrels. (Frank) Hmmm, really? (Deb) Have you seen those? (Frank) No I have not. (Deb) I have to tell you, it is a shock. It’s like you’re looking at some kind of computer animation when you see the black squirrels running around. It’s like that can’t be! But yea, they’re all over the place and the town of Marysville is very proud of that, and we’re gonna take a look. Squirrels. They may be entertaining and they may be a nuisance nesting in the eaves of your house. But in Marysville, the squirrel is revered, and even has its own festival. But these are not the ordinary brown or gray squirrels running through most of our yards. These squirrels are black, black as night, black as coal, black as the heart of the Wicked Witch herself. In 1972, the Governing Body of Marysville passed legislation protecting the black squirrel and making it the Official Town Mascot. It has the freedom to trespass on all City property, immunity from traffic regulations and the first pick of all black walnuts growing within the city. Entering Marysville from any direction, there are signs proclaiming, Marysville, Kansas – Black Squirrel City. Be on the lookout when driving around town for the black squirrel has the right-of-way on all streets, alleys and railroad crossings. The fine is $25 for harming one. The exclusive profusion of black squirrels in Marysville is a curious phenomenon. The most likely explanation involves a traveling carnival which passed through town in the 1920’s and stayed for a few days in the City’s Park. Among the carnival exhibits was a cage full of black squirrels. One night a child opened the cage and the squirrels escaped. Since then, the squirrels have increased their ranks. About 1/5th of Marysville’s squirrel population is now black. Whatever the reason for their presence in Marysville, residents and passersby seem to love them. Many residents have squirrel boxes attached to their trees, fence posts and porches. The community thinks they are beautiful and some think they bring good luck. One of the best places to look for black squirrels is in the City Park. These little bundles of energy are most active just after dawn and in the late afternoon. Their highways are the power lines that run through the town. They can cover a lot of territory safely by running over these lines, stopping at favorite trees here and there. They love to sleep and sun themselves on high branches during the day, but often come to earth to forage in the shade. This is the perfect day: pack a picnic lunch and drive very slowly once you reach the city limits. Lay your blanket in the Marysville City Park and then sit back munching your sandwich and watching the black squirrels at play.

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