‘They have their own fan club’: Giant cicadas create a buzz around Franklin home

‘They have their own fan club’: Giant cicadas create a buzz around Franklin home

FRANKLIN, Tenn. (WKRN) — The singing, flying bugs have been making their presence known all across Tennessee, but a particularly sizable group of cicadas have emerged at a Franklin home.

All standing at about 3 feet tall, drivers heading down Murfreesboro Road have been stopping and pulling over just to get a glimpse of the giant cicadas and maybe even snap a photo with them.

Leonora Green Clifford and her husband Tony had no idea the lawn display would draw so much attention when they began crafting the cicadas in their garage a few weeks ago.

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“We’ve been here for years,” Leonora said. “My daddy bought this house in 1960 and we’ve been doing it for years, been doing the displays for years, but you know, every once in a while, you just hit a nerve and this one, the cicadas did.”

It all started a little more than two decades ago, with Leonora being the brain behind most of the ideas and Tony being the artist. Initially, it was decorations for the holidays, but now they craft a different display almost every month.

Three large cicadas on display at a home in Franklin. (Courtesy: Leonora Green Clifford)
Three large cicadas on display at a home in Franklin. (Courtesy: Leonora Green Clifford)

“We have a following already of people that want to know what’s going to be our next blow-up or yard art,” Tony said. “We usually give our address, the house that the blow ups are in the front yard and everybody’s like, ‘Oh, we know that house’.”

Until now, their following has largely consisted of locals or neighborhood friends who will ride by and honk. In months without a fun holiday, Leonora said she’ll simply “make one up.”

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“Life is short, and I think you should laugh when you can, and if you have to make up a holiday for that, then you just should do that,” she said.

One of their past displays featured an alien spacecraft, marking the July 1947 Roswell incident in which some believe a UFO crashed in New Mexico. Whether the crash “happened or not,” Tony said they just try to have fun with their creations.

“We don’t take it seriously at all. Those things, the cicadas, only took a few hours to make. If I had known there was going to be this much attention to it, I might have done a better job,” Tony joked.

The couple sometimes uses inflatables for their displays, but other ideas take a bit more creativity. Inflatable cicadas are hard to come by, but with all the “cicada chatter” going on following the emergence of the 13-year cicadas, Leonora said it sparked an idea.

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It took about four hours for Tony to construct the three large cicadas out of foam core board. He then used spray paint to give them wings and sets of beady red eyes. They each wound up being about 3 feet tall and 6 feet long.

“My husband is very creative. He’s got a creative spirit,” Leonora said. “I call him the Bob Ross of core board.”

A large cicada on display at a home in Franklin. (Courtesy: Leonora Green Clifford)
A large cicada on display at a home in Franklin. (Courtesy: Leonora Green Clifford)

About two weeks after setting them up, the couple said they’ve “made a lot of new friends.” As photos of the cicadas have spread across social media, several people have stopped by to see the giant bugs themselves and take photos next to them.

“They come in the yard, and they want to be photographed with the yard art, and even the cicadas, as ugly as they are, they want to have their picture taken with them sometimes,” Tony said. “We don’t mind it.”

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The cicadas have gained such a following that when the couple temporarily removed them last week to mow their yard, Leonora said, “people lost their minds.”

“We can’t take ’em down now,” she said. “They have their own fan club going now.”

The Cliffords plan to keep the display up until the cicadas die off around the middle of June, but they may occasionally be missing due to severe weather. Since they’re made out of foam, the couple doesn’t want them flying away.

But just as with the cicadas’ life cycle, Tennesseans could see the giant cicadas return to the Franklin home again in 13 years. As long as they’re not “too old to do it by then,” Leonora joked.

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“Before this we did, she wanted carrots for Easter to go with the blow-up Easter eggs that we had,” Tony said. “So, I did some carrots and then after that she wanted me to do cicadas, so I don’t know what she’s going to ask me to do next.”

“Who knows,” Leonora said. “I guess we’ll see.”

People can follow along with the Cliffords’ various yard displays by checking out their Facebook page.

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