A look behind the trend of those goose lawn ornaments and why they’re so popular

Dressing up lawn geese is a Midwest phenomenon

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This fancy Nancy is ready for Halloween!

If your grandma didn’t have one, then her neighbor probably did.

Goose lawn ornaments are a staple in Midwestern front porch culture, but the question is: Why? Why did these geese become popular, and how?

From a naked goose to a goose wearing a yellow rain jacket and hat, there are many ways to dress up these front porch squatters.

So, why geese?

According to the Chicago Bungalow Association, geese were treasured by farmers for their courage and valiance. Geese are the watchdogs of the farm and will honk and possibly chase off predators. These fearless birds are associated with bravery by not only farmers but also by other cultures as well.

Look at all of the folklore that honor the bird such as, “The Goose that Laid the Golden Eggs,” “The Geese and the Fig Tree,” “The Magic Swan Geese” and “The Wonderful Adventures of Nils.”

An article from the Atlantic states that the origin of exactly when people started putting these guard birds in their yards or on their porches is murky, but did note that their popularity started in the 80s and most likely originated from Ohio.

The Chicago Tribune released the article, “Stylish Lawn Geese Get Down Big Time” in 1998 about the birds starting their story with “When you’re long-necked and squat and your body is either solid as concrete or malleable as cheap plastic, a bikini may not be the ideal way to show off those curves.”

What can you put on a lawn goose?

  • Wigs
  • Hippie garb
  • Lederhosen
  • Jerseys
  • Properly-sized face masks
  • Bikinis of varying modesty levels

Building a Metro Detroit lawn goose empire

Troy Adam is a third-generation owner of Potteryland, which was located out of Shelby Township. Potteryland may not have a storefront anymore, but the family-owned business still operates online.

Adam said that his hands have made thousands of cement geese.

Founded in 1956 by Donald and Shirley Adam and then passed down to their son in the early 80s, this Macomb County family has had their fair share of these cement guard birds. Adam said that the goose is the best seller in its family’s business and Potteryland was introduced to this phenomenon in the early 80s.

“Some lady came to my dad and said, ‘Hey, there’s this fad that’s going around. It’s actually from Pennsylvania, and people are dressing these geese.’ So she and her sisters started making goose clothes,” explained Adam. “They started making outfits and it just exploded. We had three molds and started making three geese a day, five days a week all winter.”

Adam said that in the summer they would have 200 to 300 of these geese and by July be sold out.

“At one time we had stocked 60 different outfits. We had outfits for all of the sports teams, rain slickers and all of the holidays,” said Adam.

Potteryland’s geese did more than just hang out on Metro Detroit door fronts.

“Someone took a goose to the White House for the Clinton inauguration and was dressed up as George Washington. We have had people bring us pictures of their goose on the beach dressed in a bathing suit,” said Adam. “We even had some from different countries.”

Will lawn geese stay popular with future generations?

It’s common for trends to repeat themselves, and with 90s statement pieces making the rounds on social media, the same can be said about these lawn ornaments.

TikTok influencer Moriah Dycus is one of many showing favor of the lawn goose ornaments, showing her followers the different ways she dresses them up.

Below are a few viral videos showing the appreciation for lawn geese:

About the Author:

Elizabeth Washington is a Digital News Editor and has been with Local 4 News since April 2022.