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Man in Chicken Suit Cries Foul Over Abuse

July 21, 2006 GMT

SEARCY, Ark. (AP) _ To Steven Turnage, it was bad enough to dress up in a chicken suit and stand along a city street in 105-degree heat. Having passers-by shoot bottle rockets at him has him crying foul.

``People don’t take this costume seriously,″ said Turnage, who wears the suit to promote a fast-food restaurant. ``They need to understand that there’s a human underneath that suit. It’s getting to the point where this is really a dangerous situation.″

One rocket nearly hit him in the eye and another burned part of his suit. Police have heard Turnage’s complaints but haven’t issued any citations.

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``Obviously it is against city ordinance to shoot fireworks inside the city limits,″ police spokeswoman Amber Dillon said. ``Depending on our investigation, other assault-related charges could possibly follow.″

Turnage said that, during the two weeks he has worn the chicken suit, people have thrown smokeless tobacco cans at him and tossed frozen drinks. After a bottle rocket attack, he called police.

``It’s challenging,″ Turnage said. ``You’ve got to be very dedicated and have a high tolerance for heat. You almost have to have a calling from the Lord to do this type of work.″

Still, he said, there are parts of the job he likes.

``Smaller kids really love it,″ he said. ``We’ve heard of kids coming from Judsonia, Bald Knob and other parts of the county just to see the chicken. Little kids run up and want a hug.″