The final chapter in the saga of Carl the Turkey was sadly written Tuesday afternoon.
But while he may be gone, there are many who will never forget him.
Carl, the turkey made famous on social media who roamed the Forest Park neighborhood from the last several months to two years, according to various reports, was apparently struck by a vehicle and killed at about 12:34 p.m. in the 6500 block of Pershing Boulevard.
Ald. Jack Rose, who represents the 15th District where Carl has called home, said the news of his unfortunate demise was a sad day, not only for residents there, but for the entire city.
“Carl had a good run,” Rose said. “He brought many smiles to the city right now. We need some smiles. It’s sad.
“It was a very positive impact. He really kind of belonged here in the Forest Park area,” Rose said. “People would follow and get different stories about Carl. He had quite the reputation during his time in Forest Park.”
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Paulette Garin, who lives near where the accident happened, said she didn’t see it, but heard the commotion outside and joined several other neighbors there who tried to render aid.
A city community service officer also arrived on the scene to remove Carl after he was struck, she said.
Garin, a big fan of Carl, said she took an emotional moment to get up close with the neighborhood friend to all.
“I just knelt down, I put my hand on his chest, and he was still warm,” she said. “I posted on the (Facebook) page already that I had the rare and unfortunate privilege of being one of the few people who got to touch him.
“He was beautiful. He was so soft,” said Garin, who noted that she last saw Carl on Monday when he stopped in her yard to take a drink from a makeshift downspout.
“He would just mosey along,” she said. “Everybody knew him.”
Traffic hinderance or helper?
Not only did Carl become quite the popular figure, complete with his own Facebook page, his daily presence seemed to help slow down the traffic on Pershing, Rose said.
“He was a diversion, and he brought some smiles out there,” he said. “We needed that.”
But Carl was not without his critics. Some residents had expressed concerns about the traffic dangers Carl posed — he frequently ran into streets, including busy Pershing Boulevard. In fact, officials at Fellow Mortals Wildlife Hospital, a Walworth County based wildlife sanctuary, said they received multiple calls from concerned residents, including some who said that Carl had taken to sleeping on the roadway.
Several times over the past few months, police were heard being dispatched to shoo Carl from the street to alleviate traffic jams.
On Nov. 22, trained volunteers stepped in to try to capture him. When they arrived, the volunteers started getting aggressive comments from people in the area, Yvonne Wallace Blane director and co-founder of Fellow Mortals said. The volunteers actually called the police to report it, she said.
After police arrived, the volunteers then went out with police assistance to catch him but ultimately Carl fled the area before that could happen.
Then, came the negative comments on social media and phone calls telling the group to leave Carl alone.
Garin said she believes it was more the traffic that stopped to see Carl that may have caused a problem with him being in the street than the other way around.
In fact, the neighbors there took it upon themselves to try and stop the traffic so Carl could be moved from harm’s way, she said.
“They’d stop to see him, and he would walk out into the street,” Garin said. “Now the bird is in front of your car, and you don’t want to move forward, then all the other cars stop.
“We would all take turns, go out there and put your hands up (to slow traffic) and ‘shoo’ Carl off to the curb so the cars would be able to proceed.”
Run of the neighborhood
Rose said he knew that Carl often moved around, even getting a running start one time this summer by Harrison Road and Pershing before landing at the top of an oak tree at the northeast corner.
“That’s where he spent the night,” Rose said.
Rose said Carl even visited his home one time to do what he often did, and that’s take a quick look around at the surroundings, even for just a short time.
“Then he kind of lifted off and went into the neighbor’s yard,” Rose said. “He was really fascinated with shiny objects and vehicles. I’ve been back on a couple bicycle rides, and I could see him.
“He would take on a truck, take on a bus and get people to slow down. He slowed the traffic on Pershing Boulevard.”
Garin echoed Rose’s sentiments about what Carl meant to everyone.
“I had conversations with Jack (Rose) about this, and we talked about the fact that one day he might meet his demise in the road, and Jack said, ‘What are you going to do?’” she said. “I said, I’ll be out there crying on the curb. Where was I today?”
Garin said she hopes the city will consider a way to honor Carl.
“With everything that’s happened to poor Kenosha, our country and the world at this point, he brought us so much joy,” she said. “People were saying, ‘What were you worrying about a bird for?’ People who have compassion for him have compassion for everybody.”
Past reports from Kenosha News reporter Terry Flores and Lake Geneva Regional News Managing Editor Stephanie Jones were used in this article.