Sent to the heavens
Fireworks man sent up in a tribute display
Meredith Smith, who organized Independence Day fireworks displays in Indianapolis for 40 years, died in February. So at this year's display Thursday night, there was a shell that fired in a white burst during the finale. And part of the white burst was Smith. About a half-teaspoon of his ashes were included in one of the shells as a tribute referred to as "the last shot." "I can't think of a better way," said family friend Kevin Moss. The shot went up over the White River, with the remains falling into the water, conforming to health codes. "I think that whatever a family can do to remember their loved one ... is great," said John Althardt of the Health and Hospital Corp. of Marion County.
Sioux City airport makes lemonade
If you ever flew out of St. Petersburg-Clearwater airport and wondered why its identification code was PIE, you would stop thinking about it by the time you landed in Sioux City, Iowa. Officials there at first were very disappointed to learn that their code was SUX, but have since turned it into a marketing tool. "We got stuck with this SUX thing, so we're going to embrace it, make it something that we can all laugh about," said airport board member Dave Bernstein. At an appreciation dinner for travel agents, Bernstein presented "Fly SUX" T-shirts. Those shirts are now so popular that they are making mugs and hats, too, and selling them in the gift shop. Oh, FYI on PIE: It's an abbreviation for Pinellas. A bad one, but that's what it is.
Cop car joyride doesn't phase mom
A 13-year-old in Dillon, S.C., drove home in police car ... twice ... and his mother didn't say anything because she thought it was harmless. Police say that the boy, who was not identified, expressed an interest in law enforcement and took the car out to do some patrolling. They think that he gained access to the keys when he watched someone enter an access code, then came back later and used it himself. The boy faces larceny and burglary charges. Mom faces charges of contributing to the delinquency of a minor.
Kent Couch, 48, of Grants Pass, Ore., is going to try again. He will sit in his lawn chair this weekend and attach 150 giant helium-filled latex balloons to it in an effort to fly 300 miles into Idaho. In 2006, he floated for about six hours. Last year, he made it about 193 miles. If all goes well, he said, he would like to plan future trips over the English Channel or across Australia. "I don't mind them thinking I'm nuts," Couch said of people who refer to him as a "balloon-atic."
Compiled from Times wire services and other sources by staff writer Jim Webster, who can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.