Maumelle’s unofficial mascot Romeo the Swan is dead

MAUMELLE, Ark. — Maumelle waters are missing their favorite fowl. People say goodbye to the unofficial mascot of the city.

Swan Romeo died on Monday at Lake Valencia. It’s the place he called home for the last four years, before staying in Lake Willastein.

Throughout the bird’s life, hundreds have connected with him, sharing online support and pictures of the swan who is regularly seen on the trail or driving by Maumelle’s busiest street.

Some called him “Valencia’s Lake King,” “Snapper,” or “the city’s unofficial mascot,” but the charming swan had one name that stuck, Romeo.

Romeo found Lake Valencia in 2018 when Paul Fowler first encountered him while jogging around Lake Willastein.

“Out of nowhere, a swan appeared that was apparently entangled in some fishing line and had a hook in its side,” Fowler recalled.

He and his wife managed to free Romeo, but four days later they saw him grazing in the middle of busy Maumelle Boulevard.

“We knew it wasn’t going to end well,” Fowler said.

To prevent the swan from being run over, Fowler carried Romeo half a mile to Lake Valencia, and he never left. How the swan originally found Lake Willastein is still unknown.

Since 2018, Romeo has been giving greetings, smiles and picturesque glances to all who took the time to appreciate him. Although few saw the beauty as a nuisance, the community appreciated it, even rescuing it when it was frozen in ice during the winter storm of 2021.

“Walking down Maumelle Boulevard, my kids are always like, ‘Where is he? Where is he?’ admitted Courtney Dunn, Maumelle’s community director.

Dunn has seen so much love for the unofficial city mascot since his death Monday, Maumelle’s government has declared a citywide holiday next Thursday, Oct. 27. At 17:30 as part of the Romeo Day celebration, the city will dedicate a plaque to the bank so that everyone can appreciate who is gone but not forgotten.

“There will never be another Romeo,” Fowler said, “I can’t tell you how much joy he brought to everyone’s life, and I think he touched quite a few people, if not the entire population of Maumelle.”

Certain people are calling for another swan to be moved to the lake, but that’s unlikely because the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission prohibits the importation or release of any waterfowl into waters like Lake Valencia, and mute swans like Romeo are not native, even invasive species.

Romeo the swan is believed to have died of natural causes.

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