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Chappie, the Alzheimer’s service bird, comes home

Chappie, the service bird, is not going to make an appearance at the Alzheimer’s Music Fest on Saturday.

He’s a famous bird, and he’d probably be mobbed if he showed up at the outdoor concert.

That might make him nervous. Besides, owner Vince Zangaro doesn’t want to risk losing Chappie again.

Zangaro, 43, is the founder of the day-long concert at Woodstock’s MadLife Stage & Studios, which raises money to help caregivers who deal, day in and day out, with the exhausting demands of Alzheimer’s and dementia.

About 5.7 million Americans have Alzheimer’s disease, and the cost of caring for them is enormous.

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Zangaro began hosting the music festival when he was taking care of his father, Albert Zangaro, and he discovered how little help was available for the sons, daughters, wives and husbands and others who care for the victims.

The seventh annual concert, which is sold out, will take place noon to 11:30 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 15.

For more than a decade Vince Zangaro cared for his father Albert Zangaro, who suffered from Alzheimer’s disease. Albert's cockatiel Chappie was almost always by Albert's side. Albert died April 10. BITA HONARVAR/SPECIAL (Bita Honarvar/Bita Honarvar)

Vince, a singer and songwriter, cared for his father Albert Zangaro for 14 years, until Albert’s death on April 10 of this year. Saturday’s concert, featuring Drivin’ N Cryin,’ Glenn Phillips and Gurufish, will be the first concert since Albert’s death.

His death left a terrible vacuum in the family.

Even Chappie appeared to be heartbroken. 

When Vince acquired Chappie three years ago, the yellow bird became another caregiver. 

He spent all his time perched on Albert’s shoulder, sitting on his knee or at the foot of his bed. 

Chappie’s solicitous attention, and the joy that it brought to Albert, delighted Vince.

Cockatiels usually just choose one person to be their soul-mate, “and Dad was Chappie’s person,” said Vince.

Albert and Chappie became a well-known duo, and drew interest from publishers, who suggested that Vince and his wife Amy write a children’s book detailing Chappie’s positive influence.  

But one day, shortly after Albert’s death, Chappie escaped out the front door of their Canton home.

Vince was bereft. He sent the word out on his extensive social media network. A week went by.

Then Vince got a call that there was a yellow bird, much like Chappie, hanging out at a park in Woodstock, 10 miles away. The bird was whistling, singing, and talking to the people there.

When Vince arrived at Dupree Park, he saw a man sitting in a car with a yellow bird on his shoulder.

“The guy comes out of the car and Chappie flew right to me,” said Vince.

So Chappie is back home, and ready to star in a children’s book. But though Albert attended several Alzheimer’s Music Fests, Chappie will not. He’ll be waiting at home for his new soul-mate.

Vince. 

. . . Alzheimer’s Music Fest, Noon-11:30 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 15; Madlife Stages & Studio, 8722 Main St, Woodstock; sold out; alzheimersmusicfest.org/

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