This week in odd news: Guinness records; ‘Star Wars’ maze
PHILADELPHIA (AP) — And they’re off — the Philadelphia bicyclists and their clothes.
Thousands of nude cyclists have set off on a trek around the city for the annual Philly Naked Bike Ride.
Organizers say about 3,000 riders in various stages of undress on Saturday planned to pedal a 10-mile (16-kilometer) course taking in sights including Independence Hall and the Philadelphia Museum of Art, where Sylvester Stallone sprinted up the steps while training as Rocky.
Participants in the ride can go as bare as they dare. Some are in their birthday suits while others are sporting underwear or just body paint.
The ride is to protest dependence on fossil fuels, advocate for the safety of cyclists and promote positive body image.
NEW YORK (AP) — A long-tailed cat, an octogenarian bodybuilder and a five-inch long eyelash are included in the latest edition of Guinness World Records.
The 2018 version of the chronicle of extraordinary feats and features was released Thursday.
The honorees include a cat from Ferndale, Michigan, named Cygnus that boasts a tail that stretches more than 17 inches (46 centimeters). It set the world record for longest tail on a domestic cat.
A Chinese woman has set the record for world’s longest eyelash, at nearly five inches (12 centimeters).
An 83-year-old great-grandfather from Los Angeles has been named the world’s oldest bodybuilder.
This is the 63rd edition of the Guinness book.
EVANSVILLE, Ind. (AP) — A southern Indiana farmer who created a corn maze with trails outlining the face of “Star Wars” character Princess Leia says he planted it to honor the late actress Carrie Fisher.
Jeremy Goebel designed the maze in February, more than a month after Fisher’s late December death, and planted it this spring using a GPS device. The corn is now mature and its trails outline the “Star Wars” character’s face, distinctive hairstyle and part of her upper body.
Goebel tells the Evansville Courier & Press that as a longtime “Star Wars” fan he “wanted to pay tribute to Carrie Fisher.”
The maze at Goebel Farms in Evansville, Indiana, honors Fisher with trails above Leia’s head that spell out “Carrie Fisher RIP 1956-2016.” The maze opens to paying customers this weekend.
ANDERSON, Calif. (AP) — California police say a man arriving home from work found a naked woman he did not know asleep in his bed.
The unidentified man told police the strange saga started Tuesday when he found a parcel ripped open on the porch of his home in Anderson about 150 miles (241 kilometers) north of Sacramento.
Once inside, he said he saw a sandwich with a bite taken and an open beer. A pack of cigarettes was missing.
Then he found the woman sleeping in his bed and called 911.
Police say 33-year-old Michelle Watkins got dressed, sat on the front porch until officers arrived and was arrested on suspicion of burglary.
She is being held on $25,000 bail. Jail records don’t indicate if she is represented by an attorney.
OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — A Nebraska woman is lending her wedding dress to brides on tight budgets instead of letting it gather dust in her closet.
Dawnetta Heinz started sharing her dress a month ago with brides who can’t afford to buy one, the Omaha World-Herald reported .
The strapless dress with a beaded bodice has already been borrowed by two other brides, and at least eight others have expressed interest.
Heinz said she bought the dress on sale for $550 at an Omaha bridal shop. She offered it on a Facebook classified ad page for free, and within 48 hours a dozen women inquired about borrowing it.
She said she’s faced financial hardships and even homelessness in her life, so she’s glad to help any woman who can’t fit a dress into her wedding budget. Heinz and her husband are now personal trainers in Omaha.
Valarie Fitzgerald, 28, wore the dress for her wedding last month. She and her husband were planning a courthouse wedding because of their tight budget, but after finding out she was able to wear Heinz’s dress, a friend helped Fitzgerald plan a decorated outdoor wedding.
“I felt amazing,” Fitzgerald said.
She said she loves the sisterhood of the shared dress, and by wearing it she felt a bond with Heinz and with women who will wear it in the future.
“I can’t wait to see how far this dress goes,” she said.
LUFKIN, Texas (AP) — A Texas woman is being held on several charges after she slipped her handcuffs, stole a police SUV and then led officers on a pursuit that reached speeds of nearly 100 mph (160 kph).
Thirty-three-year-old Toscha Sponsler was being held Thursday in the Angelina County jail on charges that include evading arrest.
Authorities say Sponsler had been detained Saturday on suspicion of shoplifting and was in the back of the SUV when she managed to slip her hand through one of the cuffs.
Video released Tuesday by Lufkin police show her then squeezing through a partition to reach the front seat.
A chase went on for about 20 miles (30 kilometers) before a state trooper managed to spin her out.
Online jail records don’t indicate whether she has an attorney.
SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. (AP) — A fake architect named Newman has been sentenced to 2 1/3 to 7 years in state prison for posing as an architect in eastern New York.
Paul J. Newman also was ordered Tuesday in Saratoga County Court to pay more than $115,000 to his victims in Albany, Rensselaer, and Saratoga counties.
Newman pleaded guilty in June to grand larceny and fraud after an investigation by New York’s attorney general dubbed “Operation Vandelay Industries.” Attorney General Eric Schneiderman’s office said Newman had rendered fraudulent architectural services since 2010. Victims included municipalities and businesses.
Schneiderman dubbed the operation to nab Newman “Vandelay Industries” in reference to a long-running joke on “Seinfeld” about a fictional company by that name. A character named Newman was Jerry’s nemesis on the sitcom.
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Scientists assessing efforts to eradicate invasive ants on the Channel Islands off California have enlisted a four-legged expert to sniff out the destructive insects.
A yellow Labrador named Tobias has lived for months with a handler on Santa Cruz Island. The specially-trained dog keeps its snout to the ground, searching for nests of Argentine ants that threatened the ecosystem after being introduced decades ago.
Christina Boser, an ecologist with the Nature Conservancy, said Tuesday that no new nests have been found — one sign that a project started in 2009 to wipe out the unwanted ants is successful.
Boser says in the absence of new nests, researchers have kept a few old nests around to give Tobias something to sniff out so the dog can get its reward: a favorite ball.
ROCKFORD, Ill. (AP) — An Illinois police officer has delivered his son in a hotel parking lot.
The Rockford Register Star reports (http://bit.ly/2j16aTg ) Rockford officer James Nachampassack was on duty early Sunday morning when his girlfriend called to say she was going to give birth. Nachampassack rushed home to find Phenh Thammavong screaming. He says her water had broken and she was going into labor.
During the 20-minute drive to the hospital, Nachampassack says Thammavong told him the baby wouldn’t wait. He pulled into a hotel parking lot and told police dispatch he needed an ambulance. Nachampassack delivered the baby moments before a group of fellow officers showed up. An ambulance arrived soon after.
While he wasn’t trained to deliver babies, Nachampassack says police have to perform under pressure.
The couple named the healthy 7-pound, 12-ounce boy Leo.
HAZLET, N.J. (AP) — A pair of New Jersey police officers became midwives for a day — helping a woman deliver a baby girl when she and her husband arrived at the station seeking help.
According to a Facebook posting, Hazlet police Sgt. Kevin Geoghan and Patrolman Pat Kiley came to the aid of the expectant mother and her “frantic” husband. Geoghan, who took charge of the delicate operation, helped deliver the girl at 4:19 p.m. on Wednesday.
The officers say the mother and the newborn baby girl appeared to be in good health. They were escorted to the hospital by the Hazlet Township First Aid Squad.
BOSTON (AP) — A kitten found walking in a busy Massachusetts highway tunnel has been rescued with the help of state police troopers who shut down traffic for it.
Police said Sunday on Facebook the kitten decided to “play a little hide and seek” in the Ted Williams Tunnel in Boston.
Sgt. Bob Dateo shut traffic down. The Animal Rescue League of Boston quickly rescued the kitten.
A trooper posted a photo of the wayward kitten on social media. A video taken by police shows the kitten walking along the side of the road as cars drive by.
Police say they need ideas on what to name the kitten.
The kitten will be put up for adoption when it’s medically cleared.
LITITZ, Pa. (AP) — A girl says she and her friends are behind the red balloons found tied to sewer grates in a small Pennsylvania town, not a homicidal clown.
Seventeen-year-old Peyton Reiff tells PennLive.com (http://bit.ly/2eNBQu5 ) the girls were trying to scare their friends in Lititz after seeing a trailer for the upcoming movie “It.”
A red balloon is the calling card of Pennywise, the sewer-dwelling, child-eating clown in Stephen King’s novel-turned-movie.
Reiff says the teens were surprised at how much attention the prank got after the local police made a playful post on Facebook, saying they were “completely terrified” to remove the balloons.
Reiff says they will meet with the department for a “funny follow up,” but says they are not being punished.
LAGRANGEVILLE, N.Y. (AP) — Seven live sharks and three dead ones have been seized from a pool in the basement of a home in New York’s Hudson Valley.
The state Department of Environmental Conservation said Wednesday officers searching a home in the Dutchess County hamlet of LaGrangeville last month found a 15-foot-diameter aboveground basement pool with seven live sandbar sharks, two dead leopard sharks and one dead hammerhead shark.
Officials say all the sharks were 2 feet to 4 feet long.
Marine wildlife experts took blood samples and measured and tagged the sharks before transferring them to the Long Island Aquarium in a truck equipped with water tanks, oxygen and climate control.
No one has been charged. An investigation is continuing.
THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) — A Dutch judge has called fowl play on a man who abducted and damaged a giant rubber duck.
Prosecutors say in a statement that the 45-year-old was sentenced Wednesday to eight weeks in prison for stealing the one-meter (three-foot) high bright yellow plastic duck from outside the Goudse Eend (Gouda Duck) cafe in the central Dutch city of Gouda on June 23.
The duck toy was later found badly damaged elsewhere in the city, prosecutors say.
The prosecution statement says the man will only have to serve two weeks if he undergoes “lifestyle training.” A judge also ordered him to pay 740 euros ($880) compensation to the owner of the cafe.
CAMBRIDGE, Mass. (AP) — Authorities say underage drinking and a waterfall pouring down a staircase led police to break up a party at a Massachusetts Institute of Technology fraternity house.
Boston police say the first floor of the Phi Delta Theta fraternity house was being “operated as a nightclub” with low light, strobe lights and a DJ on Sunday night without the approval of the City of Boston License Division.
Police say detectives observed someone under 21 with a can of beer. They say the frat brothers had also installed a waterfall on the upper floor that soaked the marble staircase.
The fraternity’s president was issued a violation for hazardous conditions inside the building and other offenses.
The fraternity and MIT did not immediately respond to requests for comment Wednesday.
HOMESTEAD, Pa. (AP) — Police in western Pennsylvania say a man who robbed a Pittsburgh-area bank hired a jitney, which was pulled over by authorities who followed the vehicle using a tracking device placed in the stolen money.
Allegheny County police say 28-year-old Christian Moore robbed the First National Bank in Homestead about 1:40 p.m. Tuesday.
Police say Moore ran to a jitney stand after handing a teller a note demanding money. County police say Homestead officers followed the jitney and stopped it in Pittsburgh’s Hazelwood neighborhood, arresting Moore and finding the money and a gun.
The jitney driver told police she didn’t know Moore had committed a crime before hiring her for a ride.
She says Moore told police she “had nothing to do with it, so that was cool of him.”
Moore was jailed without an attorney Wednesday.
BELFAST, Maine (AP) — A group of Mainers says Passy Pete the Lobster has predicted six more weeks of summer at an annual ceremony.
The crustacean has been fished out of the Passagassawakeag River for the past three years in a tradition modeled after famed groundhog Punxsutawney Phil’s winter prediction in Pennsylvania.
David Crabiel and his business partner, David Brassbridge, thought up the eccentric ceremony as a way to have some fun. Each year, a group of barons flank Passy Pete as he picks a scroll to determine whether Maine will see an extended summer or be greeted by winter. This year’s ceremony took place Monday.
Crabiel tells WLBZ-TV (http://on.wlbz2.com/2w3mCUk) Pete’s been right the past two years. Brassbridge says they hope to carry on the tradition.
GENEVA (AP) — A Swiss supermarket chain has started selling burgers and balls made from insects, a move being billed as a legal first in Europe.
Seven of Coop’s nearly 2,500 stores in Switzerland are serving up the critter concoctions from Zurich-based food startup Essento. A broader launch is planned by year’s end.
The bug burgers are made of rice, chopped vegetables, spices and mealworm larvae.
Coop says its goal is to convince leery consumers to try a nutritious, if unusual food that “preserve the planet’s resources.”
During the limited rollout, curious consumers have had the insect products flying off the shelves.
A change in Swiss law in May allows the sale for human consumption of three types of insects: mealworm larvae, house crickets and migratory locusts.