Southern literary icon Flannery O’Connor loved peacocks, despite their tendency to annoy relatives and neighbors.
In an essay on her favorite bird, O’Connor wrote, “I intend to stand firm and let the peacocks multiply, for I am sure that, in the end, the last word will be theirs.”
As she raised her peacocks in her final home in Milledgeville, the boisterous birds were embroidered into the author’s iconography.
Each year, the Flannery O’Connor Childhood Home, a period museum on Charlton Street where O’Connor spent the first 13 years of her life, throws their annual fundraiser, the Peacock Party. The annual soirée helps fund the continuing maintenance of the house as well as special events.
For the first time in recent memory, the Peacock Party will be held at the home itself. In years past, the home was not quite large enough to host a full party. Thanks to the neighbors, who have joined in opening their garden area, the party will happen under the moonlight this year.
“The house is really small,” Flannery O’Connor Childhood Home Foundation manager Cody Shelley said. “Flannery did not live an extravagant lifestyle in Savannah. It’s a quite modest row house. We don’t have room to have this kind of party at the house. We had to have the partnership of our neighbors to accommodate the kind of numbers that we would get for the Peacock Party and the bar and food we’d need to set up.
“The house we’re having the party in conjunction with is the house Flannery’s surrogate grandmother lived in. Flannery played in those spaces when she was a little girl.”
Along with heavy hors d’oeuvres, live music from Jackson Evans, libations and encouraged costuming, the Peacock Party will also have a silent auction with vacation rentals, art and more to help with the fundraising.
“It is the one fundraiser we do every year,” Shelley said. “There’s a silent auction to raise money. It’s full of amazing art, tickets to things in town. All kinds of great items. This is the one event that we have to focus on fundraising to support the home, the programming that we offer, the open hours, the maintenance, all of that. We have some beautiful vacation rentals in the silent auction. We have a signature art piece. Panhandle Slim art. Signed books from local authors. It’s very local-centric.”
The fundraiser will help finance a free lecture series in the fall featuring author Charles Frazier, whose book “Cold Mountain” won the National Book Award in 1998, and was later adapted into an Academy Award-winning film in 2003.
“It’s going to be in the garden with the house open for people to come and visit, in conjunction with our neighbors,” Shelley said. “So it’s in their courtyard, garden area, out in the moonlight. It’s going to be gorgeous.”