August 14, 2012
The NBA doesn’t have anything on this bird. With a ruffle of feathers the gold and blue macaw, momentarily nicknamed ‘Kareem Abdul-Jabbird,’ popped a little ball into a little hoop while its rapt audience clapped.
The 38-year-old macaw, known as Officer Byrd, under the guidance of retired Los Angeles Police Department officer Mike Simonsen, charmed an audience at La Sierra University the evening of Aug. 4 with impressive tricks and antics while his owner dispensed safety tips. Through his nonprofit, officerbyrd.org, Simonsen and Officer Byrd give presentations on safety for schools and other groups around the country. “Remember, police officers, firemen, they’re your friends,” Simonsen said to the children in the audience. It was all part of a community event designed to strengthen residents’ relationships with public safety groups and promote prevention of crime.
The university’s Student Life department together with Riverside community activist Cathy Jensen coordinated the event as a kickoff to the National Night Out crime prevention campaign that took place in cities around the country on Aug. 7. Riverside residents gathered on campus playing fields to learn more about the safety services provided by fire and police departments, the U.S. Army and Coast Guard, and to meet some of the skilled individuals dedicated to saving lives.
Riverside Police Department officers Pellissero and Baird landed a police helicopter on the field and answered the questions of curious children and adults who peered inside the vehicle throughout the evening. Youngsters climbed around a fire truck provided by the Riverside Fire Department Station 8, and Riverside police officers gave a k-9 demonstration with two police dogs.
La Sierra University held a welcome service emceed by Associate Vice President for Student Life and Dean of Students Marjorie Robinson with brief talks by Riverside Mayor Ron Loveridge and Riverside Police Chief Sergio Diaz. Robinson and Jensen presented Loveridge and Diaz with wooden pens hand-carved by alum Lee Kaufholtz. He makes the pens on a lathe using trimmed tree branches and downed trees from La Sierra’s campus.
Following the evening’s events, La Sierra University Church Pastor Dave Peckham gave a talk and prayer prior to an outdoor night showing of the Walt Disney movie “Tangled” projected onto a screen in front of the Alumni Pavilion. Audience members were offered free popcorn.
Click here for a slideshow of the event’s activities.
Click here for a video clip of Officer Byrd’s police car riding trick.
Click here for a video clip of Riverside Mayor Ron Loveridge’s talk.
PR Contact: Larry Becker
Executive Director of University Relations
La Sierra University