"Only in Florida," we like to say when we read about a monkey on the loose, a girl with incurable hiccups, a gator lurking near an elementary school and other bizarre stories. And it's true: We do seem to have more weird stuff happen here per capita than anywhere else in the country. The St. Petersburg Times even has a blog called bizarreflorida.com devoted to such stories. But we don't have a monopoly on bizarre news. Stupid criminals, run-ins with wildlife and goofy mishaps happen in other states, too. Here are some recent examples:
The world's largest Confederate flag
Opinions differ on what the 139-foot-tall flag really symbolizes, causing controversy that made national headlines when it was erected in 2008. The NAACP tried to persuade the Sons of Confederate Veterans to reconsider, but the flag still flies at the intersection of Interstates 75 and 4.
But only in Idaho:
The KKK snowman
Earlier this month, a Hayden home-owner built a noose-carrying, KKK hood-wearing snowman on his front lawn, drawing outrage from neighbors and parents whose kids attended a nearby school. We're guessing the snowman has either melted or been destroyed by now, but the chilly figure was around long enough to cause a national stir.
The 'Don't Tase Me Bro' guy
During a 2007 political rally at the University of Florida, a student irked police during a question-and-answer session and the police tried to eject him. A struggle ensued and the student yelled the now-famous line, "Don't Tase me, bro!" just before an officer stunned him with a Taser. The incident was caught on video and became an instant pop culture sensation.
But only in Wyoming:
The guy who painted himself to avoid being Tased
When Cheyenne police went to a man's home on a domestic violence call in September, the man doused himself in white latex paint and told officers that if they shot him with the stun gun, he'd die. He was mistaken, police told him before hitting him with the Taser twice and handcuffing him.
The Grandpa Bandit
Claiming he needed the money to pay his mortgage, a 73-year-old man was accused of robbing three South Tampa banks earlier this year. It appeared to be a new venture, since he has no prior criminal record and did not use a weapon. His trial is set for January.
But only in Michigan:
The Bad Breath Bandit
In a Detroit suburb last year, bank tellers identified a robber as the man who robbed them twice before because he had a distinct trait: offensive breath and yellow teeth. To date, there have been no reports of his arrest, so the bad breath robber may still be on the loose.
The Christmas display reindeer hiding in an elf house
Lakeland police responded last week to reports of a deer running loose, but apparently Highland Park Church of the Nazarene members were already on it. The "reindeer" was from a live nativity scene at the church. The church staff chased after Rudy, named after Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, and found him hiding under a nearby elf house. Rudy's owner packed him up and took him home.
But only in Oregon:
The Nativity display camel stuck in a sinkhole
Firefighters in rural Oregon rescued a 1,200-pound camel that was stuck up to its neck in a sinkhole in September. They spent hours digging out the beast named Moses, used for live nativity displays, and he was safely removed before going back to his barn.
The alligator at the crosswalk
In September, a 7-foot alligator was loitering near a crosswalk at Forest Lakes Elementary School in Oldsmar, just as children were arriving for school. Deputies couldn't wait for a wildlife trapper to arrive and handcuffed the gator, which was known to be a recurring nuisance in the area.
But only in Montana:
The mountain lion at the bus stop
Waiting for their school bus at a rural stop near Missoula, a group of children spotted a mountain lion in a field just 200 feet away. The bus driver pulled up and quickly loaded the children, who ranged from kindergarten to eighth grade, and the lion fled. A manager of the bus company later said the children seemed "more excited than scared."
Information from the Associated Press, the Oregonian, KXLY.com, Wyoming Tribune Eagle and the Huffington Post was used in this report.
Still, Florida has some of the best bizarre news. Get the latest on our Bizarre Florida blog, tampabay.com/blogs/bizarre.