by Allison Atkinson
photographs by Brantley Atkinson
Nancy Hight has been dressing a bronze chicken statue at the foot of her Raleigh driveway every morning for more than 10 years.
She can’t tell you the date it all began, but she does remember why. She was preparing her home for a wedding shower, and wanted guests to be able to easily identify her driveway. Already a collector of whimsical yard art, Hight knew when she spotted the chicken that it would do the trick. She fashioned some wedding attire for the bird, dressed it for the shower, and a tradition was born.
If you have met Nancy, this would not strike you as unusual.
Nor would the variety of costumes she makes for her chicken, which change with the day, season, and weather, and often respond to current events. The chicken regularly dons sundresses and prom dresses, rain slickers and graduation gowns, Santa outfits and Easter bonnets, Hawaiian shirts and straw hats. Her chicken followed the candidacy and election of Donald Trump; is a major Wolfpack fan; and honors local heroes, like the firefighters who kept downtown from burning in March’s massive blaze. When a prankster stole her chicken recently, she found an “emergency backup chicken” immediately, and didn’t miss a beat.
An animal-lover since birth, Nancy has rescued and raised a multitude of live creatures, including dogs, a wolf that thought he was a dog, horses, goats, and even a donkey. As a child in elementary school, she says she was a repository for all manner of unwanted animals – a convenient adopter of ferrets and hamsters whose owners were not up to the task of daily pet care.
Nancy has always lived with love and energy to spare. She has served on the boards of directors for the SPCA and the N.C. State College of Veterinary Medicine, and volunteered perpetually for Love Wins Ministries.