From The Grand Island Independent:

In 2003, Paul Messerschmidt’s doctor told him he needed to start walking for his health. His kids, who were 15 and 18 at the time, were supposed to help him get his exercise, but they weren’t.

“I had these babies,” Messerschmidt said of the geese. “I took them down the street to embarrass my kids.

“It worked,” he said with a laugh. “Amanda (his daughter) came home one day and said, ‘People are talking about a fat man walking baby geese down the sidewalk.’”

“It keeps me out of the hospital,” Messerschmidt said of all the walking. He said he suffers from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and chronic pneumonia. When he started walking the geese, he weighed over 430 pounds. Now he is down to 241 pounds.

That first year, Messerschmidt took the geese in a parade, just to see if he could win some prize money. He actually planned on having goose meat at the end of that year. But people took to them and him. More and more people started asking him to bring his geese places. He has taken them to nursing homes, day care centers and schools.

He and his geese have walked 711 miles in six years, traveling to 417 towns for fairs, festivals or parades.

They do get treats during the day and are particularly fond of soda pop. Mountain Dew is their favorite, followed by Pepsi.

“They also like Mike’s Hard Lemonade,” Messerschmidt said with a laugh. “But they don’t get drunk on it. It doesn’t affect them.”

The geese are each dressed in a themed outfit, which changes each day. Monday was a baseball theme, but the geese also have outfits for NASCAR, evening gowns and tuxedos, and cowboys.

The geese are named Crybaby, Wrongway, Flyby, Petey, Little Droops, Mr. Books, George, C.C., Little Frankie, James Dean and Rocks.

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