STRANGE BUT TRUE: Tales of the weird and wack

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‘Tis the season for a whole lot of Christmas craziness, plus scandal at a Saudi beauty pageant (for camels), hippos that have COVID, a beautiful brownie, and KFC news you simply won’t believe – all here in this week’s weird and wacky…


A Roman Catholic diocese in Sicily publicly apologized to outraged parents after its bishop told a group of children that there’s no Santa Claus. Italian news reports quoted Rev. Alessandro Stagliano as saying during a recent religious festival that Santa doesn’t exist and that his red costume was created by the Coca-Cola company for publicity. The diocese countered that he was merely trying to underline the true meaning of Christmas and the story of St. Nicholas, a bishop who gave gifts to the poor and was persecuted by a Roman emperor.

But, if the public comments were any indication, Sicilian parents weren’t having any of it. While several welcomed the bishop’s attempt to focus on the Catholic meaning of Christmas, others faulted Stagliano for interfering with family traditions and celebrations and crushing the spirits of children whose early years were disrupted by the pandemic.


A Belgian zoo says that a pair of hippopotamuses in its care are in isolation after testing positive for COVID-19, possibly the first time ever such animals have caught the disease. Belgium’s national veterinary lab has confirmed that Antwerp Zoo’s two hippos – Imani, aged 14, and 41-year-old Hermien – contracted COVID-19. It’s unclear how they caught it. Both the giant semiaquatic herbivores are well, apart from exceptionally runny noses. Keepers have tightened virus restrictions around the zoo.


More than 230 skiing and snowboarding Kris Kringles took to a western Maine resort last Sunday to raise money for charity. The jolly ol’ St. Nicks took a break last year because of the global pandemic, but they returned to kick off the ski season in full holiday garb, including white beards, red hats and red outfits. The event took place in the western Maine town of Newry, home to the Sunday River Ski Resort, the state’s busiest.

A sea of red Santa suits descended the mountain, carving wide turns as their beards fluttered in the icy wind. At least one green-costumed Grinch snuck his way into the mix, disguised in Santa’s coat and hat. Before dashing through the snow, the Santas must all donate a minimum of $20, which helps support local education and recreation programs.


Saudi authorities using “advanced and specialized technology” have conducted their biggest-ever crackdown on “enhanced” camel beauty contestants that received Botox injections and other artificial touch-ups, with over 40 camels disqualified from the King Abdulaziz Camel Festival this month.

Breeders compete for some $66 million in prize money, but Botox injections, face lifts and other cosmetic alterations to make the camels more attractive are strictly prohibited. Jurors decide the winner based on the shape of the camels’ heads, necks, humps, dress, and postures.

This year, authorities discovered dozens of breeders had stretched out the lips and noses of camels, used hormones to boost the beasts’ muscles, injected camels’ heads and lips with Botox to make them bigger, inflated body parts with rubber bands, and used fillers to relax their faces. Camel breeding is a multimillion-dollar industry and similar events take place across the region.


A Massachusetts cannabis company celebrated National Brownie Day on Wednesday with what it believes is the “largest THC-infused brownie ever made.” MariMed Inc. said the massive confection is .9 m. by .9 m. square and 38 cm. tall, weighs 385 kg, and contains 20,000 mg of THC.

What happens to the brownie now? Company spokesperson Howard Schacter said it will be sent to its Middleborough dispensary and ultimately sold to a medical marijuana patient. As to what the customer plans to do with it, Schacter couldn’t say. The purchase price is still being determined, he said.


US federal agents are investigating voyeurism incidents at Grand Canyon National Park. National Park Service special agents with the Investigative Services Branch said they were working to identify potential female victims of surreptitious recordings taken in bathroom facilities in the canyon’s backcountry. In September 2020, park visitors at Phantom Ranch reported that they believed a maintenance worker had recorded them while using a toilet. Authorities said that worker was subsequently fired and removed from the park. There is no indication so far that the images were shared or distributed by the suspect, according to authorities, who said the voyeurism incidents remain an active and open criminal matter.


And finally, in the spirit of the season, or something, we offer this press release, presented verbatim (we dare not tamper with perfection), from Kentucky Fried Chicken (lord help us):

“Seasoned greetings are officially upon us with the return of KFC’s 11 Herbs & Spices Firelog, the one-and-only fried chicken-scented beacon of the holidays. Spark up one of KFC’s coveted Firelogs, because the intoxicating aroma of the Colonel’s iconic secret recipe makes everything jollier. KFC’s 11 Herbs & Spices Firelog will be available exclusively at Canadian Tire stores across the country and online, while quantities last.

“After selling out year-after-year in the US, the Firelog made its Canadian debut in 2020, becoming an instant classic, keeping hearths aglow and noses ring-ting-tingling across the country. This year the Firelog returns, bringing the promise of savoury scents with it. To take this seasonal sensation one step further, we recommend satisfying the taste factor by picking up one of KFC Canada’s Festive Double Bucket specials at your local restaurant.

“’Last year, we captured the hearts and senses of our Canadian fans with our 11 Herbs & Spices Firelogs. We are excited to bring them back this year and spread finger-lickin’ good cheer,’ said Katherine Debicki, Chief Marketing Officer, KFC Canada. ‘The holiday season is full of so many treats for the senses, we’re so happy our 11 Herbs & Spices Firelog is one of them: gift it, gaze at it, just be sure not to eat it.’”

The logs are available for $19.99 (less than a bucket, and probably healthier, we might add).

First published at Travel Industry Today

First published at – Global Travel News