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    Saturday, August 13, 2022

    Pizza ID, Rattlesnake Island: New England's 2016 weirdness

    FILE - In this September 2013 aerial file photo provided by the Massachusetts Deptartment of Conservation and Recreation, a dirt and stone road leads to Mount Zion Island, at rear, at the Quabbin Reservoir in Petersham, Mass. A plan by the state to start a colony of venomous timber rattlesnakes on the off-limits island in the state's largest drinking water supply came under fire, and became one of New England's odd stories in 2016. (Clif Read, The Mass. Dept. of Conservation and Recreation via AP, File)

    BOSTON — It was the year of Rhode Iceland and Rattlesnake Island. Of 40-year-old Twinkies, clown wars and pizza offered as ID.

    And let's not forget this udder nonsense: texting cows.

    File 2016 in New England under "W'' for wacky. Your guide to some of the weirder stories that left us scratching our heads, laughing out loud or both:



    A Massachusetts student became a national punchline after she tried to use a slice of pizza as a form of identification to get into a college town bar — then slapped the bouncer when he refused her entry. Monkey Bar co-owner Rasif Rafiq said the unidentified Amherst College student proffered the slice when asked for proper ID at the door. The club didn't buy it, and police ordered her to stay away.



    It was like the plot for a bad B-movie: A small New England town votes to establish a colony of endangered timber rattlesnakes on an uninhabited island. What could possibly go wrong? Nothing yet, but it turns out that rattlers can swim. That's an unsettling thought for some living near Massachusetts' Quabbin Reservoir, who worry the venomous snakes will reach the mainland and sink their fangs into people and pets.



    Rhode Island overreached big time in its effort to tout its sandy beaches, earning the unflattering nickname "Rhode Iceland" after an embarrassing $5 million tourism campaign included a video that featured a scene from Iceland. By the time the non-volcanic dust had settled, the state's chief marketing officer had resigned, and the Ocean State was awash in waves of humiliation.



    It's no bull: These pregnant dairy cows send text messages when they're about to give birth. Researchers at the University of New Hampshire began using technology developed in Ireland to help detect bovine labor. The system, Moocall, uses sensors attached to the animals' tails to send text alerts to dairy managers that contractions have begun.



    Don't toss that Twinkie — it's probably still good. A glass box on display at the private George Stevens Academy in Blue Hill, Maine, contains a 40-year-old Twinkie — part of a chemistry experiment that now-retired teacher Roger Bennatti began in 1976 to see how food additives affect the shelf life of snacks.



    Several hundred University of Connecticut students armed with golf clubs, shovels and hockey sticks gathered before midnight in a graveyard, ready to do battle with menacing clowns they'd heard might be lurking among the headstones. It was one of the weirder responses to a freaky phenomenon that swept the nation: Random and panic-inducing sightings of people dressed as clowns.



    Rhode Island Statehouse staff found themselves pining for a taller Christmas tree after their original Tannenbaum was deemed too puny for the capitol rotunda. The 14-foot donated Fraser fir was moved outside and replaced with a 20-foot balsam. It wasn't the littlest state's first tree trouble. In 2005, the Statehouse tree shed all its needles after being treated with fire retardant.



    The 2016 presidential campaign turned out to be a slippery slope in Vermont. Renoun, a ski maker based in Burlington, came out with a pair featuring Hillary Clinton on the left ski and Donald Trump on the right. With a price tag of more than $2,000 a pair, only moguls could afford them.

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