2015 has been a wild year in Pennsylvania, from Pope Francis’ visit to Philadelphia, to the legislative shortcomings we’ve experienced, to weird crimes, and more. As this year draws (maybe gladly) to a close, let us take a few minutes to recollect all of the craziest news stories we’ve seen in Pennsylvania this year. And chronologically, here they are.
1. In January, a board in Fayette County reappointed a member who has been dead since 2012.
Larry Markwood's legacy will live on. He was a member of the Fayette County Industrial Authority, a volunteer board that hasn't met since 2010. Because of its inactivity, Markwood's passing in 2012 wasn't on the board's radar when it came time to re-elect members this year. They conducted interviews, but somehow Markwood's absence slipped through the cracks until he had already been reappointed.
2. In March, a man committed car insurance fraud in the most foolproof manner.
Usually if you get into a car accident and don't have insurance, you have to accept the fact that you're screwed. Michael Traveny of Altoona didn't give up that easily. After wrecking his car, he immediately called up Safe Auto Insurance, purchased insurance, then filed a claim the next day. Even though he told the insurance company that the accident occurred after his policy took effect, he was quickly found out and put on trial for fraud.
3. In April, a house was spotted floating down the Allegheny River in Pittsburgh.
Pittsburgh is admittedly a quirky town, but even there, this was enough to turn a few heads. The house was floated down the river on a barge, past PNC Park, before docking near South Side to become part of a new marina.
4. In August, Buffalo Bill's infamous house went up for sale.
"The Silence of the Lambs" is a super famous movie, and this year the house where its most iconic scenes were filmed went up for sale in Perryopolis. The original asking price was $300,000, but the owners have
lowered the price
since initially putting it on the market.
5. In August, Miss Pennsylvania was arrested and jailed for faking Leukemia in order to raise money from fans.
Beauty queens are supposedly selected not only for their dazzling looks, but also for their well-roundedness and integrity. Brandi Lee Weaver-Gates must have done an amazing job, then, of continuing a two-year long ruse to collect money from concerned donors. Even her family had no idea that she was faking Leukemia - that is, until she was busted.
6. Pope Francis visited Philadelphia, causing mass chaos (pun intended).
This may not be the weirdest news story on our list, but it was indeed an insane event. Whether or not you were one of the over one million visitors who came to see the pope during the last weekend of September, you undeniably heard about it, or even fondly remember the disruption that occurred throughout Philadelphia that month. It was the first time a pope had visited Philadelphia since 1979.
7. In September, a Lehigh Valley man was sentenced for committing a string of robberies and pinning the crimes on his evil twin brother.
Steven Felton faces at least 60 years in prison for holding up 11 convenience stores, gas stations, and beer distributors in eastern Pennsylvania at gunpoint. He attempted a creative alibi at trial: that his evil twin committed the crimes. Felton is now behind bars, but his menace of a twin is still at large.
8. In October, a runaway multi-million dollar military blimp drifted into Pennsylvania before crash landing in Exchange.
The blimp broke free of its tethers in Maryland and drifted for about 150 miles before its landing. Luckily, no one was hurt, but more than 30,000 Pennsylvania residents were left without power due to the mile-long cable the blimp dragged behind it during its journey.
9. In November, a Palmyra teen accidentally ran an entire marathon.
Similar to Forrest Gump, who ran across the country because he just felt like it, in November, Evan Megoulas ran the entire Philadelphia Marathon without really planning on it. He initially planned to run only a half-marathon— 13.1 miles instead of 26.2— but missed his turn and continued to the finish line because he felt just fine.
10. Also in November, a pair of zebras escaped from a circus and roamed the streets of Philadelphia.
Evan Megoulas wasn't the only creature unexpectedly found running around Philly in November. A pair of zebras escaped from the circus and lead authorities on a brief chase before being recaptured. At press time, one of the zebras had made a statement that "We just wanted to grab some cheesesteaks before our next performance."
11. This is the longest we've ever gone without a state budget.
Breaking the record that was initially set in 2003, Pennsylvania has now gone six months without finalizing a budget. At the time of this article's writing, we are waiting to find out if governor Tom Wolf will sign the latest $30.3 billion budget proposal; though he stands in opposition to its Republican authorship, Pennsylvanians are protesting that "We need a budget!" Now THAT'S insane.
Remember all these? Have any others you’d add to this list? Share your thoughts down below.