A lighter look at the past year around here

December 31, 2003

While much of the news of 2003 dealt with catastrophic events, deaths, elections and "serious" items, reporters at The Advocate-Messenger did manage to turn up stories that sometimes made readers' frowns turn to grins.

From diapers for horses to the argument about the world's largest carnival rat, some items in the news of the past year were definitely residents of the lighter side.

Where do they go in the summer?

Jan. 19 - A group of 12 campers and one dog took extreme camping to the, well, extreme, setting up their tents on the banks of the Kentucky River near Salvisa at Cummins Ferry Campground. No big news there, except these gentlemen spent their week away from home in the dead of winter. Called the "Winter Freeze Out," by the participants, the annual frigid excursion has a 20-year history, and the fact that the campers were iced in for three days this year was termed a "minor discomfort" by Allen Fryman of Millersburg. The camp was easy to find this year - a trail of pickups that slid into roadside ditches marked the way. No problem, said Raymond Clark of Lancaster. "We'll get them out when we get ready to leave. We weren't going anywhere anyway."


How big is the pacifier?

April 23 - Crab Orchard drew national attention when city fathers passed an ordinance requiring horses in the streets to wear diapers to prevent, ahem, disturbing displays on the streets. The issue came up after complaints were made about horses used by the Amish in the area to pull buggies leaving messes on the streets. Lawmakers passed an ordinance requiring the horses to be fitted with apron-type shields. Amish leaders protested and threatened to boycott Crab Orchard businesses. A compromise of sorts was reached, and Huggies for Horses were no longer required. It is possible that the sales of pooper-scoopers increased, however.

The vanishing flower barrel

May 20 - Janice McElroy planted an old whiskey barrel full of begonias and carnations in her yard, only to see them disappear before her very eyes. A sinkhole formed on a Saturday, engulfing the barrel, flowers and all. The sinkhole apparently formed over an old stone well. McElroy said she'd always heard about something disappearing before your very eyes, but never actually saw it happen. Or didn't see it.

The great snake hunting politician

June 12 - Boyle magistrate Phil Sammons was horseback riding with a friend on Sassafras Knob when he literally ran across a 51-inch Timber rattlesnake. Sammons jumped from his horse and bludgeoned the poisonous and sometimes lethal snake with a rock, and then brought proof to the next fiscal court meeting in the form of the rattler's tail.

Where was Boo Boo?

July 20 - Joberta Wells enjoys an appreciative dinner guest, but when a black bear showed up at her Casey County home she wasn't all that enthusiastic. Bears in the wild are rare in Kentucky, but a wildlife specialist said odds are the bear was a young male looking for suitable territory. He was spotted by several people in Casey and Lincoln counties, but Wells is sure she knows the reason he traveled in from Virginia or Tennessee. "It was the power of my pot roast gravy," she said.

Bee gone

July 21 - Tabitha Turner had a huge problem when a swarm of approximately 3,000 bees picked her Patrician Place yard to hang out. The promise of a lifetime supply of honey notwithstanding, Turner and her neighbors knew the bees had to go before any neighborhood children were hurt. Efforts to contact animal control officers and beekeepers were unsuccessful, and two Danville police officers finally had to resort to the tried-and-true method of gasoline and a match to get rid of the persistent insects.

How big was it?

July 24 - That age old carnival question concerning what's billed as the "world's largest rat" evoked discussion and argument at the Mercer County Fair this year. Five-year-old Drew Angel swore it was a ground hog, and a former carny worker said he believed the rodent in question was a baby boar hog. Whatever its true genetic origins, the star of the midway was a definite eye-opener.

Dead heat

July 25 - Hustonville mayor Larry "Pup" Doss had a bullseye on his chest at the annual Hustonville Days coffin race. Yes, that's right - teams of driver and pusher wheel coffins down Main Street in an effort to be the first to finish, making this the only time being first in your coffin is a good thing. Doss, with his personalized plates and chrome-coated casket, proclaimed his wheels "the team to beat." All in all, he said, it was just another fun way to promote the town of Hustonville.

Chopper surprise

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