New Englanders fired up the weirdness machine again in 2019, and it cranked out oddities pretty much nonstop.
There was a giant spinning ice disk in Maine, a naked firefighter in Rhode Island, and twin mysteries in Massachusetts and Vermont, where people reported that intruders had entered their homes — only to vacuum and scrub them clean.
A sampling of some of the region’s stranger stories from the past 12 months:
A slowly rotating ice disk the width of a football field formed in the Presumpscot River in Westbrook, Maine, outside Portland, mesmerizing crowds and entertaining ducks who, one observer said, were rotating on the big Lazy Susan. The alien-like disk spun slowly counter-clockwise for days, grinding to a halt only after an attention-seeker from New Jersey tried to hack a giant peace sign on it with a hatchet.
No wonder this hound wasn’t hungry. A family in Wellesley, Massachusetts, brought its 3-year-old bulldog, Mortimer, to a Boston veterinary hospital after he suddenly stopped eating. An X-ray revealed why: His stomach was packed with 19 baby pacifiers he had apparently taken from his owners’ two children. The pooch made a full recovery after the binkies were removed using a medical scope that didn’t require surgery.
HE EXTINGUISHED HIS CLOTHES
A veteran firefighter who police say walked naked into a Rhode Island convenience store on a dare retired early after being placed on leave. Authorities in Middletown charged 60-year-old John Walsh, of Lynnfield, Massachusetts, with disorderly conduct after he shed his clothing and wore nothing but a “smile on his face” as he purchased a soda at a 7-Eleven. A woman passenger in his car told police she dared him to enter the store nude because he said it was legal in the Ocean State.
WAS IT A ’409′ IN PROGRESS?
These were two clean capers — or maybe just two cases of mistaken identity. In mid-May, Nate Roman, of Marlborough, Massachusetts, came home from work and knew instantly someone had been inside. Nothing was taken, but the house was spotless: beds made, rugs vacuumed, toilets scrubbed — even origami roses crafted on the toilet paper rolls. Police think a housekeeping service may have come to his house by mistake. Roman called the experience “weird and creepy.” Three weeks later, a Vermont man came home to find a strange woman cleaning his house.
LIKE A NEEDLE IN A HAYSTACK
Imagine being reunited with your wedding ring after losing it on a snowy mountaintop. That unlikely outcome happened to Bill Giguere, who lost the gold band on a snow-covered trail up 4,000-foot Mount Hancock in New Hampshire’s White Mountains. He put out a plea for help, and fellow hikers Tom Gately and Brendan Cheever managed to locate the ring in the snow with a metal detector. “It beeped and he’s, like, ‘I think I found it,’ and everybody’s like, ‘What?’” Cheever told WMUR-TV.
SNAKE IN AN S.U.V.
This was no ordinary distressed driver call. Police and bystanders in East Windsor, Connecticut, teamed up on Independence Day to remove a 6-foot-long boa constrictor that had wrapped itself around the engine block of a car. Police wrote in Facebook post that it “was not exactly the call” they were expecting on a holiday. Later, they said: “This may surprise you but we, the police, are not normally in the business of wrangling snakes.” The snake, which authorities think was an escaped pet, was brought to a nature center.
BAD LUCK BUCK
Whitetail deer and whitecaps don’t usually mix, so a Maine lobsterman was astonished to find a young buck drifting five miles out to sea. Ren Dorr and his crew managed to rescue the 100-pound deer, which had given up swimming. Dorr was a little worried that sharing the cramped deck of a lobster boat with a wild animal would be tricky, but the deer was so exhausted, “he laid right down like a dog.” The buck was set free on shore. Dorr said the deer would have been “a goner” if the lobstermen hadn’t intervened.
WINTER’S OVER — WANNA BET?
Apparently trying to guess when the ice will melt is such a thing in northern Vermont, some people even place bets on it. In West Danville, locals bought tickets for a $5,000 jackpot to see who could predict when a cinder block would fall through pond ice. Organizers say the annual Joe’s Pond Ice Out Contest began in the 1980s as a response to cabin fever. In Newport, near the border with Canada, there’s a similar contest with a twist. Residents bet on when “Vanilla Ice,” a large plywood cutout of a bottle of vanilla extract, will drop into Lake Memphremagog.