For better or for worse, 2016 was an incredibly eventful year. News reports informed us of all things joyful and all things devastating. Between election news and the passing of several beloved celebrities and noteworthy figures, there would hardly seem room for anything else. So we’re here to take a look at some of the news you might have missed: the strangest things to happen to each of the 50 states. Some are weird, some are mysterious, and all are downright bizarre.
When a Reddit user from Alabama signed up to participate in the site's Secret Santa gift swap, she wasn't expecting much. When she opened her gifts, she was shocked to find her Santa was Snoop Dogg himself. The celebrity gifted her slippers, tea, a candle, mini drones, and a handwritten note.
A few years back, a photographer stumbled upon the dead body of a whale, washed ashore in Alaska from the Bering Sea. Further examination in July of this year confirmed that the whale was not a Baird's beaked whale, as previously thought, but a new species altogether. Scientists know very little about this kind of whale, aside from the fact that Japanese fisherman have referred to them as karasu, or ravens, in the past.
This past June, police were called to investigate the home of a Scottsdale resident after neighbors reported a "strong and unusual" odor. Apparently, the house had a system for smoking marijuana that took up the space of an entire room. Investigators were forced to use hazmat protocol.
In October, a 43-year-old woman was arrested in Hot Springs, Arkansas after having stolen nearly $200,000 in public funds. The woman, an assistant to a Garland County judge, used the money to buy an assortment of bizarre items including a tuxedo for her dog and sequined throw pillows.
Anyone who's left behind a nickel or penny in the security bins at the airport probably hasn't given it a second thought. But reports from the TSA have shown that over $50,000 in coins is collected from the Los Angeles airport alone. Talk about spare change! Next year, Californians might double check their bins at security before rushing off to their gate.
It was a July evening in Aurora, Colorado when an off duty policeman was mugged in a parking lot. In order to protect himself, the deputy fired his gun at the exact same moment that the mugger pointed his gun. The bullet from the fired gun shot straight into the barrel of the other handgun, a shot which is considered to be one in a billion.
The University of Connecticut conducted a study in July that indicated 74% of phone users "agreed" to privacy policies and terms of service on apps and various websites without actually reading them. And of the readers, the average time spent on the document was 74 seconds (when an appropriate time to understand the legal jargon would have taken at least 30 minutes). If users had indeed read the terms closely, they might have noticed that the study conductors had added terms such as giving up their first-born child.
When the Punkin Chunkin festival returned after two years to Bridgeville, Delaware, few anticipated its traumatic ending. The pumpkin cannon, which typically launches pumpkins into the air, malfunctioned and shards burst through the crowd. One woman was particularly injured, with serious face and neck injuries. While the event was highly anticipated, its future is now uncertain.
Florida resident Shawnee Chasser has lived in her treehouse since 1992. This structure is fully equipped with everything she needs to get by, but it's not quite up to code. Miami officials planned to tear down the tree if she couldn't meet said standards. (Note: photograph above is not the actual treehouse).
Ringold, Georgia is known for its monthly pro wrestling shows. All was going as planned until 65-year-old female spectator just couldn't take it anymore. She rushed into the ring to rescue the "good guy" by beating the "bad guy" with a chair. She even pulled a loaded handgun on him, but was arrested before things really got out of hand.
In an effort to save this rare and beautiful Hawaiian bird, officials in May were considering introducing a genetically modified mosquito into the area's population. This hybrid mosquito will create offspring that quickly die off, which in turn will decrease the population. Its estimated that 71 of the state's 113 bird species have gone extinct due to mosquitos and human contact. The particular species photographed above is known as the ʻAnianiau.
It was a typical night in November for the residents of a University of Idaho student apartment. That is, until a man dressed in a full gorilla costume burst through the door, ran through the rooms and then out again. The female residents were shocked and called the police, unsure if this was a crime or plain old monkey business.
A lawsuit was filed against Will County, Illinois when an insurance agent was apparently traumatized by a teenager playing "ding dong ditch." The man who filed the lawsuit claimed he lost at least $30,000 in income over emotional distress, weight loss, and anxiety.
Mayor Goodnight of Kokomo Indiana decided that enough was enough. After 60 years, he lifted the ban on pinball machines. Shortly after, he invited the police chief to the first legal game of pinball since 1955.
It's a known fact that jail food isn't great...but would you ever consider eating the emergency phone? An inmate at Cherokee County Jail did just that in March. His motives were unclear, although he was later charged with criminal mischief to the 5th degree.
In September, a man from Kansas was arrested for attempting to rob a bank. The man handed a note to the teller that read "I have a gun, give me money." The robber was given money but instead of running, he simply sat down and waited for the police to arrive. When they got there, he told them that he was hoping to be taken to jail as it seemed a better alternative than being with his wife after an argument.
A woman from Owensboro, Kentucky might have found the ultimate in fending off squirrels from bird feeders this year. A toy she had planned on giving to her grandchild ended up around her bird feeder in a desperate attempt to ward of the critters. And miraculously, it's worked like a charm. Don't be surprised to find slinky-like squirrel guards for sale in the near future.
In July, two men from Shreveport, Louisiana decided to attempt an armed carjack at the Oasis car wash. Unfortunately, they didn't quite think things through and were met by an angry owner and a high-pressure hose. Needless to say, the carjack was not a success. Check out
posted on YouTube by purechaos2000.
In October, a man covered in branches was arrested in Portland for blocking traffic. This performance artist hoped to draw attention to the amount of traffic downtown, but unfortunately he was charged with a misdemeanor traffic obstruction instead.
It's not unusual for store displays to become messy during the holidays, but shoppers are usually the culprits. This wasn't the case in Charlotte Hall, where a beaver wandered into a Dollar General and started rifling through the Christmas display. Animal Control safely removed him from the store.
An assistant manager arrived to work early one morning in June to an unusual sight: a man on the ground whose head had gotten stuck in the space beneath the heavy metal door. The manager cheekily consoled the obvious burglar to "hang tight," as the police were on the way. The man was later arrested for attempted burglary.
During an October hearing, Judge John McBain did something rather surprising. The defendant on trial began to resist the court officer on hand, so Judge McBain took matters into his own hands. He threw off his robe, leapt from his seat and proceeded to tackle the defendant until help arrived.
Winning the lottery is one thing. But winning the lottery TWICE? For a Minnesota resident, this was reality. Last year, Anthony Fusaro of Plymouth won a million dollars and this year his grand total was $875,000. Chances are, he'll splurge for that third ticket next year.
The spirit of the season was apparently lost on the aptly-named "Grinch Couple" when they broke into the home of a Brandon resident. The worst part? They ate all the Christmas cookies before fleeing!
On August 4th, a paramedic with the St. Louis Fire Department noticed his car had been broken into and some items were missing. As he was filing a report, the station got an emergency call concerning a pedestrian who had been hit by a car. When the paramedic arrived at the scene, he noticed his own belongings were strewn about and the person who robbed his car was likely the wounded pedestrian. Even so, the paramedic continued to help the man and said charges would not be pressed until the man was discharged from the hospital.
Four teenagers went camping and set up a campfire, but failed to put it out properly and the flames kept blazing long after they had left the site. The resulting wildfire cost the state over $5 million and resulted in 16 homes burned as well as over 8,000 acres of land.
If you didn't already hear about this story that hit Nebraska news back in August, then I'm sure you can still tell where this is going. After unloading groceries from his car, a 53-year old Omaha resident discovered and ate brownies that his adult children had left behind. After he ate a whopping four brownies, the man began experiencing anxiety. Paramedics arrived at the home to find the man crawling on the floor and yelling profanities at the family cat. You can't make this stuff up.
What happen in Vegas stays in Vegas? Not when it comes to this golden memory. While riding the slot machine-themed zip line through the city, a teenager took it upon himself to relieve his bladder. Unsure of whether or not the accident was intentional, the boy's parents publicly apologized to anyone taking in the Freemont Street Experience who was showered upon.
29. New Hampshire
The town of Merrimack wondered what exactly was captured in this photo taken at a local cemetery. The Merrimack Police Department posted the photo on its Facebook page, and folks speculated what was captured in the photo. From rabid dogs to chupacabras, imaginations ran wild as locals wondered if they were living amongst a legendary creature.
30. New Jersey
This locally famous bear Rockaway Township, was known for literally walking upright through the streets and yards of New Jersey. In an even stranger turn of events, Pedal was later shot and killed by one of The Garden State's residents.
31. New Mexico
College is for furthering your education... and searching for Bigfoot? This year it was brought to light that Dr. Dryer of the University of New Mexico had been carrying out an investigation to find the legendary myth that is Bigfoot. While the professor claimed that he only carried out his research on his own time, later findings showed that he spent over $7,000 of taxpayers' money on Bigfoot related expenses.
32. New York
After mixing LSD and cough syrup, a man living in the town of Halfmoon broke into his neighbors' home to save their dog from a fire that wasn't actually happening. While the vivid hallucinations weren't real, the fact that the 43-year old man was arrested afterwards certainly was.
33. North Carolina
It's a bird, it's a plane! Actually, we have no idea what it is. Residents in the Raleigh area were baffled to look up into the sky and find what appeared to be bright balls of fire shooting across the sky.
34. North Dakota
North Dakota was hit with a tremendous blizzard that closed down Interstate 94. With nearly zero visibility, North Dakota's major highway was shut down in the beginning of December. Closing a 300-mile stretch of the road, the unusually intense storm created horrible conditions filled with snow and gusting winds.
Harambe the gorilla quickly became the talk of the town, and the entire country, after his death back in May of this year. The 17-year old silverback gorilla was killed after a 3-year old boy fell into the exhibit. Many people were enraged by the death of the gorilla, and the social media sites quickly filled with endless memes dedicated to Harambe. Not only was the aftermath of the entire tragic event noteworthy, the fact that the Cincinnati Zoo had to request that the memes cease made things all the more bizarre and dramatic.
This supercell thunderstorm looked like something you would expect to see in one of your favorite apocalyptic movies, and it caught Oklahoma residents off guard. Looming over the sky as the sun set, the enormous storm managed to grab our attention with its unbelievable formation and unusual sounds.
Late night bystanders in Portland witnessed a cape wearing, lightsaber-wielding man riding through the city streets on a horse. It was later revealed that the unknown man was a 36-year old Portland resident who simply loves taking his horse on urban adventures. For all the details, read our full article
Like something you'd see in an old cartoon, Flyers fans were ironically flying off of a malfunctioning escalator while trying to exit a game back in April. Footage of the terrifying, chaotic scene went viral, but luckily the malfunction didn't result in any injuries. Perhaps the moving set of stairs was too overwhelmed by the Flyers' win? We'll never know.
39. Rhode Island
Rhode Island resident Alan Sorrentino wrote to his local newspaper and stated his opinion that women over the age of 20 shouldn't wear yoga pants, claiming that they were unflattering. The editorial prompted hundreds of locals to let the man know just how they felt about his not-so-kind words. Parading through the town, yoga-wearing residents made a point to march past Sorrentino's home.
40. South Carolina
The list of celebrities who passed away in 2016 was heartbreaking, and the final moments of 2016 seemed to be claiming some of our most beloved celebrities. To prevent the world from suffering any more, one South Carolina man took it upon himself to make sure that Betty White was protected from letting 2016 take her or harm her in any way. His GoFundMe campaign raised over $7,000 in one day.
41. South Dakota
Think you're having a bad day? Things could certainly be worse. Back in May, over twenty cows in McCook County were found dead after lightning struck their metal bale feeder. The unusual event quickly went viral all over the state. To most everyone's knowledge, this is the largest amount of cattle killed by a lightning strike in South Dakota.
Six Tennessee inmates managed to sneak their way out of Cook County Jail in Newport by removing a faulty toilet from the wall. The inmates escaped through the hole behind it to make their way to the outside world in the early hours of Christmas morning. All six were caught and brought back into custody by December 28th, 2016.
A Texas woman thought she stumbled upon some garbage in her yard until she saw that there was a note written across the balloon. A local resident was distraught over the death of a family member and decided to put the ashes in a balloon, leaving a note requesting that whoever discovered them inform the resident of where they had landed. Anyone else now feeling compelled to let their loved ones know they have no desire to be sent off to the afterlife in a random balloon?
In Southern Utah's Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, scientists discovered a new dinosaur species. After uncovering the remains, the scientists learned that it was a plant-eating dinosaur that was roughly 26-feet long. The dinosaur was named Machairoceratops cronusi. You never know what you're going to uncover in Utah!
After an emu escaped from a farm this summer, Prince William County residents went on the hunt. After several locals called in, police found the surprisingly calm animal quickly. Did you see this feathered creature while it was out and about on the town?
Because Vermont couldn't get anymore charming, the Green Mountain State's most bizarre crime-spree was one that simply involved plants. Over a 10-day period nearly 30 reports were made of plants, trees and flowers being stolen and gardens vandalized. All over the city of Burlington, residents were waking up to find that their gardens had been disrupted and left empty.
Giant boulders came rumbling down into the road in December as WSDOT used equipment to shake loose an unstable boulder. Captured in footage on YouTube along Interstate 5, it was certainly an unusual sight to see in the Evergreen State.
48. West Virginia
Here's one more good reason to never leave your dog in the car. Back in August, two dogs that were left inside of a car while their owner went into the store managed to drive the car into the building. The owner reportedly left the car running so the air conditioning could stay on for her dogs, not knowing they would figure out a way to operate her vehicle. The damage done to the car and building was minimal, but the sight of seeing two dogs behind the steering wheel of a moving car is something West Virginia will never forget!
In October, a
included a video that caused quite a bit of commotion in Wisconsin this year. The poster pointed out similarities to the girl featured in the video and missing 15-year-old Kayla Berg. Those who saw the YouTube video before it was taken down were baffled by what appeared to be the missing girl quite literally captured in the footage. Eventually it was discovered that the man in video was an actor and comedian, in the end all the fuss was for nothing.
In June, a man and his sister took a trip to the Yellowstone National Park and explored an unauthorized area. The man reportedly reached into the water to check the temperature of a hot pot when he slipped and fell in. Due to stormy weather, officials had to wait until the following day to retrieve the young man's body. The bizarre part? When they came back the next day the body had completely dissolved in the acidic water, leaving no remains behind at all.
So what did you think of these bizarre headlines from 2016? Did any come to mind that might have missed the list? Be sure to share your thoughts with us!