WTF Fun Fact 13599 – The Florida Man Games

Pete Melfi, inspired by a decade of zany “Florida Man” headlines during his tenure in radio and podcasting, wanted to recreate the spirit of those escapades. The unique challenge? Giving participants the thrilling experience of a “Florida Man” adventure, but without the threat of arrest. Enter the “Florida Man Games,” an athletic showdown promising wild fun with zero jail time.

First Responders Join the Florida Man Fun

Melfi’s rapport with St. Johns County Sheriff Rob Hardwick turned out to be a game-changer. Not only did Hardwick find the concept hilarious, but he also brought along a team of volunteers from the sheriff’s office. Their mission? To chase down participants in one of the event’s highlight challenges: the “Evading Arrest Obstacle Course.” This race sees competitors dodging police officers as they leap fences and dart through backyards.

More Than Just Evading Arrest

The Florida Man Games, set for February 24, 2024, in St. Augustine, isn’t just about dodging the cops. The event roster includes the Weaponized Pool Noodle Mud Duel, where teams battle it out in a colossal above-ground pool. There’s also the “Beer Belly Florida Sumo” contest, a mullet competition, and the amusingly titled “Florida Ma’am” contest. One of the most anticipated showdowns is the “Brawl of the Badges,” where police officers and firefighters exchange blows in a friendly boxing match.

Calling All Teams: Enter the Colosseum

Sixteen select teams will experience the mayhem firsthand in the “colosseum,” as Melfi playfully dubs the venue. With a projected crowd of 10,000, including both competitors and ticket-holders, the atmosphere promises electric energy. Prospective teams need to act fast, as the entry deadline looms on November 15. By the month’s end, the final teams will lock in their spots, as announced on The Florida Man Games’ official website.

The Essence of The Florida Man Games

Beyond the chaos and laughter, what is Melfi’s true aspiration for the games? He’s after genuine, side-splitting hilarity. “Just as with the headlines, our primary goal is to induce laughter,” Melfi shares. To him, laughter is the most precious gift one can offer, and the games are his way of spreading joy.

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Source: “‘Evading Arrest’ Among Events at Florida Man Games — and Founder Says ‘a Ton’ of Cops Volunteered as Chasers” — People

WTF Fun Fact 13470 – An Underwater Concert

Would you attend an underwater concert off the Florida coast? It certainly sounds unique.

The Florida Keys hosts an annual Underwater Music Festival. Hundreds of divers and snorkelers dive into the ocean to listen to an underwater concert advocating for coral reef protection.

An Underwater Concert for Conservation

The Lower Keys Underwater Music Festival, primarily focuses on promoting eco-conscious diving. It takes place at Looe Key Reef, a region of the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary. This is situated around 6 miles (10 kilometers) south of Big Pine Key. The sanctuary, established in 1990, spans a whopping 3,800 square miles (9,800 square kilometers). As a result, it protects the expansive barrier reef running parallel to the 125-mile-long (201-kilometer-long) island chain.

Participants of this unique festival are treated to a breathtaking view of Looe Key’s vibrant marine life and coral formations. They swim amongst the oceanic beauty, all while listening to an aquatic-themed playlist broadcasted under the sea. A local radio station pipes the music underwater through waterproof speakers suspended beneath boats stationed above the reef.

Playlist of the Deep

The festival’s curated playlist is a collection of carefully selected water-themed songs. During the concert, classics such as the Beatles’ “Yellow Submarine,” Jimmy Buffett’s “Fins,” and the theme from Disney’s “The Little Mermaid” echo through the water. These tunes punctuate the silence of the sea, interspersed with informative diver awareness messages. The goal is to provide a fun and engaging way to educate attendees on the steps they can take to minimize environmental impacts on the world’s coral reefs.

The ocean becomes a stage where costumed “mermaids” and other characters add visual flair to the concert. The resulting spectacle combines education with entertainment, set against the unique backdrop of the continental United States’ only living coral barrier reef.

Local radio station 104.1 FM and the Lower Keys Chamber of Commerce organize the four-hour musical extravaganza. So, it’s clear their commitment to conservation and creativity is the driving force behind this immersive, educational, and eco-friendly event.

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Source: “Underwater music show in the Florida Keys promotes awareness of coral reef protection” — Associated Press

WTF Fun Fact 13408 – Kingsley Lake Florida

Kingsley Lake Florida is perfectly circular. This has led many to call it the “Silver Dollar Lake.”

Located in the town of Starke, Kingsley Lake spans around 2,000 acres. Its nearly flawless roundness measures an astounding two miles in diameter. It’s a symmetrical spectacle that sets it apart from other natural lakes. The lake’s circular perfection has become a sight to behold, a round masterpiece that Mother Nature proudly exhibits.

The Allure of Symmetry

The geometric perfection of Kingsley Lake provokes a sense of wonder among scientists and laymen alike. A glance at the aerial view of the lake is like peering at a crisp, round coin – a silver dollar etched on the canvas of Florida’s natural landscapes.

The lake’s near-perfect circle, combined with its calm, clear waters, creates a mesmerizing spectacle. The circumference embraces an array of private homes, campgrounds, and retreat centers, all equally benefiting from the lake’s captivating aesthetics. Its tranquil blue, seemingly drawn with a compass, is a soothing sight for locals and visitors who seek respite from Florida’s heat.

Unraveling the Mystery of Kingsley Lake

The intrigue surrounding Kingsley Lake’s unique circular shape often elicits inquiries into its origin. While no definitive explanation exists, some geologists propose that the lake may be a “sinkhole lake,” a common phenomenon in Florida’s sandy terrain. Over time, as acidic rainwater dissolves the limestone beneath the ground, a depression forms, eventually giving birth to a sinkhole. However, the precision of Kingsley Lake’s shape challenges this theory, as sinkholes tend to be irregularly shaped.

Others suggest that the lake could be a “Carolina Bay.” These elliptical depressions, predominantly found along the Atlantic seaboard, are renowned for their distinct shapes, which may have been sculpted by wind and water currents over centuries. Still, the perfect circularity of Kingsley Lake nudges against this theory, as Carolina Bays typically exhibit more of an oval shape.

The Round Lake Lifestyle

With its alluring roundness as a backdrop, life on Kingsley Lake offers an unforgettable experience. The lake’s sandy bottom and clear waters make it ideal for boating, swimming, and water skiing, attracting outdoor enthusiasts year-round. As sunlight dances on the lake’s smooth surface, those lucky enough to live around its circumference cherish their unique front-row seats to this natural spectacle.

In the sweltering Florida summer, Kingsley Lake transforms into a refreshing oasis. The lake’s cool, crystalline waters beckon swimmers, while its wide expanse offers ample space for boaters and water skiers. The lake’s sandy beaches and picnic areasvare perfect for family outings. This makes Kingsley Lake a beloved destination for both recreation and relaxation.

Celebrating Kingsley Lake Florida

In the grand array of natural wonders that dot Florida’s landscapes, Kingsley Lake shines uniquely. Its perfect roundness is not only a geographical anomaly but also a source of constant fascination and charm.

Kingsley Lake serves as a humbling reminder of nature’s capacity to awe and inspire. Whether it’s the result of a sinkhole or a Carolina Bay, its perfect roundness adds a dash of mystery to Florida’s natural beauty.

Undoubtedly, Kingsley Lake’s perfect circle will continue to enthrall its onlookers, offering an unmatched view of nature’s geometric prowess and fostering a sense of community among those fortunate enough to live around its shores.

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Source: “KINGSLEY LAKE, FLORIDA: Camp Blanding and Strickland’s Landing” — Florida Back Roads Travel

WTF Fun Fact 13391 – Giant Penguin Hoax

In 1948, the quiet shores of Clearwater Beach, Florida, were the site of a giant penguin hoax that would continue for a decade and not be explained for another 40 years.

Florida’s giant penguin hoax

Mysterious tracks resembling giant three-toed footprints emerged from the sea, leaving people astounded and intrigued. These footprints, approximately 35 centimeters long and 28 centimeters wide, stretched along the beach for miles, suggesting the presence of a colossal creature.

Word of the strange tracks quickly spread, and eyewitness accounts of unusual creatures started to surface. For example, students at the Dunedin Flying School claimed to have spotted a creature resembling a furry log with a boar’s head swimming in the water. A couple walking along the beach recounted a sighting of a towering creature waddling near the water before vanishing into the sea. The news of these encounters only deepened the mystery.

Monster hunting

The local police were compelled to investigate the footprints. British biologist Ivan Terence Sanderson, known for his ventures into pseudoscience, also took an interest in the case. Sanderson conducted his own investigations. He meticulously studied the tracks that continued to appear over the next decade. Sanderson proposed that a massive, 15-foot-tall penguin might be responsible for the enigmatic footprints.

The case for a giant penguin

Sanderson noted that the tracks consistently followed gentle slopes, even if it meant meandering along the way. Moreover, they skillfully avoided any obstacles, no matter how small, such as bushes or debris. These traits, according to Sanderson, were characteristic of typical animal behavior. He found it implausible that the tracks could be the result of a hoax, given the level of detail and precision involved in their creation.

The idea of an undiscovered giant penguin roaming the beach without anyone noticing seemed more plausible to him.

Uncovering the truth

Fast forward to 1988. That’s when the truth behind the peculiar footprints was finally revealed. A local man named Tony Signorini stepped forward and confessed to the prank.

Signorini and his friend, Al Williams, were inspired by a National Geographic photo of dinosaur footprints. Motivated by a mischievous spirit, they decided to embark on a decade-long hoax. They constructed enormous three-toed metal feet, which they attached to tennis shoes. Their plan involved taking a small rowboat out to sea, with one of them wearing the 14-kilogram (30-pound) shoes and walking up the beach. Later, they would rendezvous with the boat further along the coast.

To create the illusion of a large stride, Signorini would stand on one leg and swing the other, building momentum for a jump. The pair often had their friend report the footprints the following day to ensure their efforts wouldn’t go unnoticed. They meticulously orchestrated a prank that fooled the public and even experts for an astonishing four decades.

After Signorini’s passing in 2013, his family made sure that his obituary commemorated his role as “The Clearwater Monster.”

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Source: “The Giant Penguin Hoax That Fooled Florida For 10 Whole Years” — IFL Science

WTF Fun Fact 12661 – The Beatles Refuse To Play In Segregated Florida Stadium

The Beatles had it written into their contract in the 1960s that they would never play in segregated stadiums.

The first time they encountered the problem was in Jacksonville, Florida in 1964 when they found out that their 32,0000-seat show at the Gator Bowl was going to be race-segregated. They said they’d rather lose the money than play for a segregated audience, forcing the city to back off the policy. It was the height of Beatlemania, and the band agreed to play once they desegregated the stadium.

“We never play to segregated audiences and we aren’t going to start now,” said John Lennon. “I’d sooner lose our appearance money.”

But The Beatles didn’t want to have to back out of contracts with the possibility of losing money anymore, so they had it written into their contract that a crowd had to be desegregated for them to play a show and that they would still be paid if they found out at the last minute that the city hadn’t heeded this obligation. – WTF Fun Facts

Source: “The Beatles banned segregated audiences, contract shows” — BBC News

WTF Fun Fact 12610 – The Rules Of the Aquatic Road

Manatees are often called “sea cows” because they’re big, slow, and gentle. And perhaps other animals have just learned to respect them for it.

We were surprised to find out that not only do manatees native to the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea migrate to Florida each year for winter, but they become a well-respected part of the aquatic ecosystem.

In fact, even alligators will treat them like guests and give them the right of way if they swim through each other’s paths. There have been no recorded attacks on manatees by alligators, even though manatees can get a bit pushy when they don’t get their way. They’ll even swim up to and “bop” an alligator that does not yield.

While the alligators don’t know this, their gesture is helping save the endangered creatures, who have died in droves over the last decade.

And even Florida politicians seem to respect the manatees. In 1979, Florida Governor Bob Graham designated November as Manatee Awareness Month. Every governor has renewed the proclamation during their tenure.

If you’d like to see how well these creatures get along, check out the video below – WTF fun facts

Source: “8 things you didn’t know about manatees” — PBS

WTF Fun Fact 12451 – The Bishop of the Moon

Archbishop William D. Borders was the founding bishop of the Diocese of Orlando, established in 1968. It covered 13 counties and nearly 10,000 square miles of central Florida. And possibly the moon.

Now, the Catholic Church has made no claim at all to the moon, but Borders’ territory happened to include Brevard, Florida, home to Cape Canaveral and the Kennedy Space Center. If that sounds familiar, it’s because that is where the U.S. launches its space missions.

At the time of the moon landing in July of 1969, many religious leaders praised the space program, seeing it as proof that God’s creation was neverending.

But for Borders, the moon landing was a little more personal. According to the 1917 Code of Canon Law (aka The Pio-Benedictine Code), which was in effect until 1983, any newly discovered territory was to be placed under the jurisdiction of the diocese from which the expedition that discovered that territory originated.

In other words, since the Apollo 11 mission launched from Cape Canaveral and that was in Borders’ territory, it was technically under his jurisdiction. A couple of other bishops joked that they might have dibs, but it was all in good fun.

In fact, to keep the joke going, Bishop Borders mentioned this to Pope Paul VI on a visit to the Vatican in late 1969. The pope had watched the moon landing with great interest (the Vatican has one of the best observatories in the world), but we’re not quite sure what he thought of the claim.

The story of their meeting comes to us via Renae Bennett, Orlando’s diocesan archivist, who wrote:

During his visit, Bishop Borders mentioned to the pope that he was the ‘bishop of the moon.’ Responding to the pontiff’s perplexed reaction, Bishop Borders explained that according to the 1917 Code of Canon Law (in effect at that time), any newly discovered territory was placed under the jurisdiction of the diocese from which the expedition that discovered that territory originated. Since Cape Canaveral, launching site for the Apollo moon missions, was in Brevard County and part of the Diocese of Orlando, then in addition to being bishop of 13 counties, he was also bishop of the moon,” Bennett wrote. That would add more than 14.6 million square miles to the Diocese of Orlando, making that diocese the largest in the known universe.”

Of course, it all means very little, but that’s what makes it a fun fact.

Another fun fact: This would all make the current Bishop of Orlando, John G. Noonan, not only bishop of the moon but also of the International Space Station, which launched from Kennedy Space Center. – WTF fun facts

Source: “A Catholic bishop of the moon?” — The Catholic Weekly

WTF Fun Fact 12439 – Alien Abduction Insurance

After noticing his homeowners insurance didn’t cover alien abduction, Florida insurance agent Mike St. Lawrence (of the St. Lawrence Agency) decided to offer it. You can purchase limited coverage for $19.95 or comprehensive alien abduction insurance for $24.95.

St. Lawrence has sold over 6000 policies to those who “want to believe.”

According to WFLA News, “Each policy includes $10 million worth of coverage as well as outpatient psychiatric care, sarcasm coverage, and double identity coverage. Policyholders can claim to be eligible for double the standard coverage, but that payout would be based on verifiable and extreme circumstances.”

“I take a very opened mind approach to this, whether it’s happening or not. But if you get one of our policies, show you have a sense of humor about it,” said St. Lawrence. 

In order to start the process of filing a claim, a person will have to obtain a signature from an “authorized, on-board alien.”

“Some way, you have to be able to prove it, and I have had a couple exceptions where they didn’t get a signature,” St. Lawrence told WFLA.

Alas, there’s another downside hidden in the fine print. The payout to you or your beneficiaries comes in the form of $1.00/year for 10 million years.  

Believe it or not, St. Lawrence has paid at least two claims. He told WFLA that a policyholder submitted a Polaroid picture with alleged aliens as proof.  – WTF fun facts 

Source: “Don’t sweat alien threat” — SF Gate

WTF Fun Fact – The Jail Houdini

WTF Fun Fact - The Jail Houdini

In the 1980s, Florida prisoner and savant Mark DeFriest built a device that catapulted himself over the prison walls, escaping before being caught again. He has escaped 7 times on 13 attempts resulting in his original 4-year sentence becoming 104 years. – WTF Fun Facts

Source: “Jailed for Stealing Tools in 1980, ‘Prison Houdini’ Is Denied Release” — New York Times