For the past six to seven months, a lovable turkey has made his way onto the streets of Lodi and hearts of the community.
With more than 3,000 members on a Facebook page made just for him, Tom Kettleman has become an icon not only in the San Joaquin area, but also around the nation and outside of the country.
The brave turkey was known for his location on the Kettleman Lane and Lower Sacramento Road intersection. Tom would cross this busy six-lane intersection daily.
It was a miracle he stayed safe for so long. On Sept. 28, that miracle ended and Tom was hit by a vehicle and killed.
The news of his death stirred up quite a storm on the Internet.
Negativity started to arise on the “Friends of Tom Kettleman” Facebook page, differences of opinion became heated and overwhelming.
Due to the increasing level of negativity on the page, it was forced to become an “invite only” situation. Most of the members were posting their condolences and pictures of Tom.
The page wasn’t just for posting pictures. Before his death, hundreds from around the area would post sightings along with the date and time, along with any funny stories about their encounter with Tom.
“One morning I was stopped at the light at Kettleman and Lower Sac and he walked in front of my car, I got out my phone to take pictures and noticed the other cars next to me were also taking pictures. I felt connected to the other drivers, we were all fans of Tommy boy,” said Heather Garcia, mother of the two.
The encounters are what made this page thrive.
Many didn’t get to see Tom all the time, in fact, many didn’t get to see him at all.
“The page was a good ‘distraction’ from the realities of the world. There is much sadness in the daily goings on in the world and even locally. Tom Kettleman & his Friends was a ‘feel good’ kind of place,”said Suzie Endow, a Lodi local.
Capturing national and global attention, the Facebook page blew up almost overnight. With people joining from Canada to Mexico, Tom was a celebrity.
Others weren’t as enthusiastic as some of these avid turkey watchers.
“It’s silly because I think he was a big deal because of the lack of things to do in town. It’s such a small town that a turkey getting hit caused a frenzy,” said Caryn Knox, a Lodi-area college student.
Tom Kettleman brought a sense of comfort to the community. Reminding everyone that there is a fun and loving side to our hectic daily lives.
“His page was a place where I could count on a guaranteed laugh every single day,” said Endow
In remembrance of Tom, a new sign that reads “WILD TURKEY XING” has been placed in the intersection he frequented. T-shirts, bumper stickers and posters are also available for purchase.
T-shirts are available online the “Friends of Tom Kettleman” for around 10 dollars. Bumper stickers also can be purchased thought the “We love Tom Kettleman” for 3 dollars and a poster for 1 dollar.