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It didn’t take long for the Christmas sp

December 29, 1997

CHEEKTOWAGA, N.Y. (AP) _ It didn’t take long for the Christmas spirit to wear off for at least one shopper looking for a parking space.

Cynthia Hall, 37, allegedly hit a woman and bit her 84-year-old mother Friday after they refused to give up their parking space at a suburban Buffalo mall.

``Ho, ho, ho, and the Christmas spirit is over,″ said Ken Jezioro, the police officer who arrested Hall on an assault charge.

The victims, who did not want their names released, were backing out of a space when Hall pulled her car up behind them and maneuvered close so she could muscle out another driver vying for the spot, Jezioro said.

A fight broke out and two other passengers in Hall’s car got involved. The victim’s 84-year-old mother then got out of the first car to confront the three women, when Hall bit her on the hand, police said.

As police approached, Hall’s passengers returned to the car and drove away without her.


MIAMI BEACH, Fla. (AP) _ Extraterrestrials didn’t exactly land on chic South Beach, but their representatives did.

Members of the Raelian Church, which claims 40,000 members worldwide, were on the beach Sunday to preach their gospel that aliens will come if humans build them an embassy.

The church said it has raised $7 million to build an embassy in the Jerusalem area before 2035.

``If not there, then in a place where people respect human rights and has beautiful weather,″ said Marie-Helene Parent, a member of the church. ``Maybe one day it will be in Miami.″

A replica of the otherworldly embassy was built out of sand on the fashionable beach, better known as a hangout for models.

The church’s founder is a French journalist named Claude Vorilhom, who now goes by Rael. He was visited by an alien Dec. 13, 1973, Parent said.


CAMBRIA, Calif. (AP) _ One person’s garbage is another’s art _ or even a historical monument.

Garbage man Art Beal spent 50 years building Nitt Witt Ridge, his ode to junk. A tottering mock castle, Nitt Witt Ridge is made up of toilets seats, car bumpers, beer cans and, yes, the kitchen sink.

But Beal died five years ago, and ever since there has been a furious debate over whether his work is art or junk. Neighbors want it razed. Preservationists want to save what they view as a charming cliffside artwork.

It was anointed a state historical monument in 1981, a declaration mocked by neighbor Casey Beals as a ``hysterical monument.″

Neighbors say Nitt Witt Ridge is nothing more than a magnet for rats and vandals and it’s rotting away. They note that the structure’s most ardent proponents, who have launched one last attempt to raise money to save it, don’t live within 30 miles of the crumbling structure.

``Folk art is one of those things best appreciated by people who don’t live near it,″ said Cambria real estate agent David Craig.

Even the biggest fans concede that they won’t be able to save the entire structure. Beal stuck his castle together using cement made with beach sand.


LUBBOCK, Texas (AP) _ A group of teen-agers knew how to throw a good party. They just didn’t know where to hold it.

A family returned home from a holiday ski trip to find their house trashed and five teen-agers partying over a fallen Christmas tree and cigarette-burned couch. Three of the revelers were arrested and charged with burglary, and two others remain suspects, police said.

Rick Don Wilson told police he had asked one of the teens to watch his house. He told the teen to feed the family’s two dogs, but he did not give him a key or permission to go inside, Wilson said.

The house smelled of marijuana and was littered with vomit and animal feces when the family returned Friday, according to police reports. Damage was estimated at nearly $12,000. Police said no food or water had been set out for the dogs and the teen-agers ate most of the family’s food.

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