News of the Weird

Friday September 27, 2002

Hail to the haggis king 

BETHLEHEM, Pa. — Hardy stomached men from around the country will scarf sheep’s entrails for a chance to be named “haggis king.” 

The haggis eating contest Friday is part of Bethlehem’s Celtic Classic Festival. The winner will be the first to finish a pound and a half of the Scottish dish, a mix of sheep’s organs, oats and spices. 

Tensions are high this year as two former champions prepare to go head to head. Steve Cunningham, of Bethlehem, and Peter Stefchak, of Anchorage, Alaska, have both won twice. 

Stefchak said his training regimen includes starving himself for 24 hours before the contest. 

Of the haggis, he said, “It sounds awful, but it actually has a light liver taste.” 

Cunningham said he is confident. His son will enter with him. 

Patrick, 14, finished the haggis first last year. But he didn’t win overall because the rules require children to eat less. Cunningham said he has a special technique for getting it down, but hasn’t told anyone except his son. 

“Blood is thicker than haggis,” he said. 

Naked gets their attention 

NORTH PLATTE, Neb. — Four years after Mayor Jim Whitaker walked his dog Naked through town to raise money for the city’s Paws-itive Partners animal shelter, the publicity stunt is still reaping rewards. 

The North Platte mayor raised a lot of eyebrows and some criticism in 1998 when he pledged to walk Naked if $5,000 was raised for the new animal shelter. 

He soon after made it known that Naked was a dog. 

Remembering the publicity stunt, a retired Bethlehem, Pa., couple has willed their personal property and any insurance to the animal shelter upon their deaths, which could add up to more than $400,000. 

“We hope to still be around awhile, but when we both go they will get everything,” said Marie Spivack. 

She and her husband, Marvin, made a donation to the animal shelter and have made several more since. The mayor ended up getting the attention of animal lovers nationwide and raised $9,000. 

What are the odds of this one 

LASALLE, Ill.— Police say a suspected bank robber wanted to get away in style. 

John Pope, 39, ordered a limousine to pick him up from his hotel in Moline after he robbed a bank Tuesday in the western Illinois community, police said. 

Unfortunately for Pope, his driver was a retired police officer. 

The driver, Don Madsen, of Moline, tipped off police that he had a suspicious passenger when he picked Pope up from the hotel. Madsen later got a call on his cell phone from one of his old colleagues, who warned that his passenger was suspected in a bank robbery. 

Madsen used cryptic language to indicate his location and state troopers found him at a LaSalle truck stop where they arrested Pope.