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Big List: Weird Florida

WEIRD WORLD: Home of Ray Charles, oranges, and Miami’s famous South Beach, the Sunshine State is a heavy contributor of weird American news. Don’t believe it? Here’s a sample, proceed with caution...

By Jean-Pierre Mestanza

Friday 16 August 2013, 04:19PM

Snakes in a swamp

For just US$25 (B760), anyone can sign up for the month-long Python Challenge. The competition takes place in the Florida Everglades with over 500 entrants looking to trap Burmese Pythons that are longer than minivans. The largest python captured at last year’s event weighed 75 kg and was measured some 5.3 metres long. Also popular is the money-grabbing contest found at Florida’s many rodeos, where participants have to grab cash tied between the horns of a live bull as they chase it down.

The Miami cannibal

On May 26, 2012, a naked man was shot dead by police after he was found chewing on the face and eyeballs of a homeless man under an expressway in Miami. The attack prompted a very brief “zombie scare” on social media and was attributed to a new drug that the attacker, Rudy Eugene, had taken – except that only marijuana was found in his system when tests were done. The victim lost 80 per cent of his face and is now permanently blind as a result of the attack.

Everyday people


There must be something in the Florida water. In April this year, a 19-year-old man who was evicted by his step-father was arrested after he pooped on the porch in front of authorities. In 2012, authorities arrested two people in separate cases of riding on a manatee in a public beach. Earlier this year, Colby Costello was arrested for stealing flower vases from cemeteries and selling them to recycling centers, then in June, the entire Lakeland Police Department was embroiled in a sex scandal that included, among other things, an “officer’s request to drink a woman’s urine”.

Living with the dead

In 1933, radiologist Carl Tanzler met a young tuberculosis patient named Elena Milagro in a hospital in Key West. Tanzler fell so madly in love with Milagro that, upon her death, he secretly removed her corpse from a tomb and lived with it for seven years, performing necrophilia. When relatives found out in 1940, he moved to Pasco, Florida where he lived with a life-sized effigy complete with a plaster cast of Milagro’s actual face. And that’s not creepy at all.

Lion meat tacos

In a far off land called Tampa Bay, Taco Fusion puts up with bomb threats and fistfights in order to serve one of mother nature’s natural born leaders between tortillas: lions. The controversial lion meat tacos are priced at US$35 (B1,060). The restaurant also sells alligator, elk, zebra, bear, and kangaroo meat tacos – though the owners assures customers that the animals are farm raised and legal in the US.

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