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ALACHUA COUNTY – An interesting phenomenon is happening in Alachua County. People are arriving home to discover an amazing surprise near their front door. A number of people have reported finding a bronze eagle approximately 16-inches tall on a wooden stand with a plaque. Each one has the honored person’s name and reads, “Lifetime award for dedication and leadership in recreation for the communities in North Central Florida.”

The most unusual thing about the delivery of the eagles is that whoever provides them apparently wishes to remain anonymous. There is no note of congratulations or any other item to identify who or what organization is honoring the person listed on the plaque.

Some of the people receiving the mysterious eagles have used social media accounts to offer thanks and photos of the eagle and plaque. Since the honors seem to revolve around a person’s dedication to recreation in the north Florida communities, calls have been received by some of the heads of local recreation programs asking if the eagles were provided by those entities.

High Springs Parks and Recreation Department Director Damon Messina says he has received numerous telephone calls asking if he or the City of High Springs is responsible for the mysterious eagle presentations. “I wish,” said Messina. “We not only don’t have the money to place expensive eagles at people’s doors, we would choose to make a major presentation of them as part of a City Commission meeting if we were to present them.”

As far as the social media comments are concerned, it seems to have begun in May. One of the first recipient’s comments on Facebook occurred May 6 on Debbie and Rodger C. Mallard’s page. A photo of the eagle accompanied Mallard’s comments. “Left at our front door. Do not know what agency responsible, but thank you so much! It’s been our family’s pleasure serving the public and youth of our cities for many years.”

The post received 139 reactions and 43 comments by well-wishers. Comments ranged from a simple “Congratulations and well deserved” to more elaborate thoughts, “Thank you for your wonderful and dedicated service to the community. We honor you both.”

Mildred Rivera-Robinson posted the following on her Facebook page on May 15. “Surprised to find this at our front door today! Doug was honored with this ‘Lifetime award for dedication and leadership in recreation for the communities in North Central Florida.’ A well-deserved award. I’m so proud of you, Doug Robinson!” she said.

Her post received 95 reactions and 34 comments ranging from, “Congratulations. Much deserved!!!” to “Thank you for everything you do, Mr. Doug. No one more deserving of this.”

Posts continued into June when on June 27 Margie Turnbull Baumann posted the following on her Facebook page. “Tonight I came home to find this wonderful surprise in my parcel box. I am very honored to receive it but would like to know who and where it came from to say Thank You!”

A group of 87 reactions to Baumann’s post included 45 comments ranging from a simple, “Congratulations” to “Massive congratulations, Margie! This is so special.”

The following day, June 28, Mike Schentrup commented on his Facebook page, “I had a nice surprise left at my front door yesterday. Whoever dropped this off…THANK YOU! But please let me know who you are. I am very honored and not really sure I deserve this, but very grateful.”

Apparently, others thought he did deserve the eagle award as his post garnered 138 reactions and 55 comments. They ranged from, “WOW, that’s nice,” to “It’s beautiful. Such honor, Mike, for all the good you do. Congrats.”

Speculations abound as to whom or what organization may be honoring the worthy recipients. One commenter suggested the American Legion could be behind the eagles. It is unknown how many other eagles have been found at people’s doors who have not commented on social media. One thing is sure; a lot of people are grateful for the many contributions to the sports and recreation initiatives and people behind them in the north Florida communities.

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