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Raging California Wildfire Sparked by Gender Reveal Party

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  • That’s one party the family will never forget

California is so hot right now, and not in any good way. In case you haven’t been reading the news (apart from our odd news) lately, let us summarize – the state is literally on fire.

The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CAL FIRE) currently lists more than a dozen wildfires active in the state. That is in addition to several more that are not within CAL FIRE’S jurisdiction.

We already covered a story about the man who saved his house from the LNU Lightning Complex Fires with a little from Bud Light beer. The further good news about that incident is that CAL FIRE lists the LNU fires as 91% contained.

But what’s not good news is that last Saturday, yet another wildfire broke out in California. Christened the El Dorado Fire, this inferno is burning near Oak Glen in San Bernardino County.

At the moment, it has burned through 7,386 acres – which makes it pretty small when compared to other wildfires. CAL FIRE says that this blaze is about 7% contained, so there’s still a lot of work to be done.

California is suffering from drought, and it doesn’t currently take much to get a fire going. A good number of them, for example, have been sparked by lightning striking bone-dry trees.

What sets the El Dorado Fire apart from the others is its cause. Which, unfortunately, is good old-fashioned human stupidity.

Cheesy and corny? Maybe, but at least this party won’t cause millions of dollars of fire damages.

This Party’s on Fire

According to a press release posted on CAL FIRE’s Instagram, the fire started in the El Dorado Ranch Park in the morning of September 5. The officials determined that the spark that started it all came from a “smoke-generating pyrotechnic device” used during a gender reveal party.

Yeah, let’s set off pyrotechnics in a drought-stricken park. What a wonderful idea.

Some of you outside the US might be wondering what a gender reveal party is. In a nutshell, it’s a party expecting parents throw for their friends to let them, and sometimes one or more of the parents, to know whether the baby is a boy or a girl.

They could’ve just told people, you know. Maybe pop a couple of balloons and have some cake if you want to make it festive. But no, it needed to be a real hot occasion.

Here’s another hot take: maybe don’t set off fireworks when your state hasn’t seen rain in who knows how long.

CAL FIRE Captain Bennet Milloy clarified the situation to the Desert Sun newspaper. He said that the event wasn’t a huge party per se – just a gathering of immediate family members to take a selfie while the smoke machine belched out appropriately colored smoke.

Well, that didn’t stop the machine from throwing sparks into the four-foot-tall grass that surrounded the photo spot. If it’s any consolation, Milloy did say the family has been openly cooperating with authorities.

Public Condemnation

Be that as it may, the parents-to-be who decided to let their kid’s gender be known with bang have received little sympathy from the public. CAL FIRE’s Twitter and Facebook posts about the press release have been filled with exasperated comments.

“It’s really not that hard to just put pink or blue balloons in a box, guys,” one commenter said on Instagram.

“Cool, so I am having asthma because people really had to do pyro gender reveal. I really hope it was worth it,” bemoaned Jen Brucker on Instagram.

Others couldn’t help dishing out some dark humor upon reading the news.

“If the flame retardant drop is pink – does that mean it was a girl?” asked @CAHikingMap on Twitter.

“Are those involved being arrested? Charged? Their ignorance is costing the rest of us,” username allison.ivey wondered on Instagram.

Well, on that point, we have official confirmation. CAL FIRE says that people can face legal repercussions in such situations.

“Those responsible for starting fires due to negligence or illegal activity can be held financially and criminally responsible,” CAL FIRE said.

So, to echo the sentiment already expressed, hope the party was worth it. It might end up costing a pretty penny.

“There goes the college fund,” another user quipped on Twitter.

A Reveal to Die For

As much as we’d like to think so, gender reveal party-sparked wildfires apparently aren’t a phenomenon isolated to this single case.

According to The Atlantic, another ridiculous gender reveal stunt sparked a wildfire that burned down 47,000 acres of land and caused $8.2 million worth of damages.

In this case, the father-to-be fired a rifle at an explosive target that discharged colored powder to reveal the baby’s gender – alongside with sparks that torched the ground. Oh, it was a boy, by the way.

The man in question – US Border Patrol agent Dennis Dickey – plead guilty to a misdemeanor violation of US Forest Service rules and agreed to pay the full cost of damages in restitution. The kid might not see an allowance in a while.

In October 2019, in Iowa, another explosive gender reveal party ended in tragedy. One woman lost her life after the family inadvertently built what was functionally a pipe bomb.

Intended to shoot colored powder into the air, the gunpowder-powered device instead blew up like the bomb it was. The force of the explosion threw a piece of metal shrapnel into the unfortunate woman’s head, killing her instantly.

According to Marion County Sheriff’s Office, the family was standing 45 feet away from the charge. The fatal shrapnel reportedly traveled a further 144 yards through the air before landing in a field. It’s a small miracle no one else was hurt.

It’s natural to be excited about your baby, but please: try to celebrate without fireworks – or high explosives for that matter.

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Man Rides Horse Down Highway in Chicago

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  • But he does it for good reason, and we really can’t be mad about it.

Just yesterday I wrote about a woman who fell out of the car she was riding in, all because of a Snapchat video. And today? A man riding his horse down the Chicago freeway.

What is with people these days? Oh ya, it is 2020.

It was 4:30 p.m. when police responded to the southbound lanes of the Dan Ryan Highway.

Adam Hollingsworth, 33, now known as the “Dreadhead Cowboy,” is facing three charges after the incident. Hollingworth was charged with reckless conduct, disobeying a police officer and criminal trespassing.

He rode around for 30 minutes or so as traffic slowed to a halt. Illinois police and Chicago police were following close behind.

Hollingsworth and the people with him were asked several times by law enforcement to leave the expressway, and they did not. Finally after exiting at the 35th St exit, Hollingsworth was taken into custody.

Darron Luster, 55, attempted to gain control over the horse after Hollingsworth was arrested. Luster was charged with obstructing and resisting arrest.

Chicago’s Mayor Lightfoot dubbed Hollingsworth “The Census Cowboy,” in efforts to bring awareness around filing out the census. Hollingsworth’s ride Monday was with the goal to turn more attention to the recent slaying of so many children over the summer.

“The thing is to send a message that our children are dying,” activist Mark Carter said. “That there are no resources coming to our communities.”

The mayor and governor are calling for funding for mental health, education and social programs and development in neighborhoods they said have been neglected.

Chicago Animal Control was called to the scene in regards to the horse. They took the animal to their facility.

The horse, named “NuNu,” had multiple injuries when animal control arrived. NuNu was bleeding from the left hoof, its right hoof was injured and the right side of the horse’s body had saddle sores.

Police were notified of Hollingsworth’s plan on Sept. 9th. His plan was denied.

The mayor’s office issued the following statement Monday.

“While the Illinois State Police (ISP) is directly leading all police matters around this incident due to the jurisdiction, Mayor Lightfoot has been briefed by the Chicago Police Department, who are assisting ISP. What is clear is that this stunt not only seriously endangered the horse but also the rider and all travelers on the expressway. There is a right way and a wrong way to call attention to issues of great importance and this stunt was decidedly the very wrong way. Furthermore, the Chicago Animal Care and Control (CACC) was on-scene arranging for the treatment of the horse which was injured as a result of this stunt and are now working to transport the animal to a temporary shelter where it can receive proper care.” 

 

 

 

 

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One of You Should Buy the Lizzie Borden House

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  • The 7-bedroom estate is back on the market for $890,000.
  • The current owners claim to have heard Lizzie Borden’s spirit, which means you can turn this into a profitable reality TV enterprise.

Just in time for the spoopy season, the Lizzie Borden house is back on the market. It’s not the house where the infamous murders took place, but Maplecroft. It’s where Borden lived in Fall River, following her acquittal for the ax-murder of her parents. It sold most recently in 2018 to Donald Woods and Leeann Wilber. They operate a Lizzie Borden themed bed-and-breakfast in the area. Until COVID, Wood and Wilber were renovating Maplecroft to become a similar venture, expanding their Borden empire. But the project got to be too expensive, and now they’re unloading the proper for $890,000.

 

I mean, I’ve seen worse properties go for more? Just look at the real estate market in Los Angeles. 

The Infamous Borden Murders

Photo by Benjamin Balázs on Unsplash

If you’re not familiar with Lizzie Borden, she stood trial for the ax-murder of her father and step-mother in 1892. The truth of what happened remains a mystery, even though the murders took place in the middle of the day with many members of the Borden household home. (Jk, Lizzie totally did it.) In part because of contradictory testimony by investigators and a second ax murder in the area, a jury acquitted Lizzie Borden. 

 

The live-in-maid at the Borden house, Bridget Sullivan, gave a deathbed confession to her sister. In it, she admitted changing her testimony to protect Lizzie. At the time of her death, Lizzie had amassed considerable wealth and several real estate holdings, but Maplecroft was her home. 

Definitely Not Haunted, Unless It Is

Photo by Benjamin Rascoe on Unsplash

There’s absolutely no reason to believe the ghost of Lizzie Borden is haunting Maplecroft. She was, by most accounts, not discontented when she died. It’s also very unusual for spirits to move properties–so Borden’s father and step-mother probably aren’t still seeking revenge at the estate. 

 

The current owners claimed to the Herald News they’ve picked up paranormal activity, registering as many as 50 voices in the home, including Lizzie Borden herself who was, “not particularly talkative.”

 

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Richard Nixon’s Unfinished Sandwich Celebrates Its 60th Anniversary

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  • But unlike those McDonald’s burgers that never rot, this lunch has been kept in a freezer

We, the people, like to process history through anniversaries. For one reason or another, we tend to put special emphasis on how many years it’s been since something happened.

Not that there’s anything wrong with the practice. When it comes to big anniversaries, 2020 has some good ones.

For instance, this August marked the 75th anniversary of the end of World War II. In January, the World Trade Organization celebrated its 25th birthday.

Meanwhile 2500 years ago – in 480 B.C. – King Leonidas of Sparta led 300 warriors against the might of the Persian Empire in the Battle of Thermopylae. What, did you think it was just a movie?

But in addition to history-shaping wars, 2020 also marks the anniversary of a slightly less significant event. More precisely, 60 years ago today – on September 22, 1960 – then-presidential candidate and later US President Richard Nixon didn’t finish his sandwich.

We know this because an Illinois man has preserved the half-eaten bison barbeque sandwich. It has sat in his freezer ever since Nixon walked away from his lunch decades ago.

The man in question is Steve Jenne, 74, of Sullivan, Illinois. This is his story – his, and Nixon’s partially consumed sandwich.

“I am not a crook. I am not going to finish that sandwich, either.” Photo courtesy of the Library of Congress.

A Trip Down the Memory Lane

But how come Jenne came to possess the lunch of Nixon, whose legacy would years later become forever tarnished in the Watergate scandal?

For answers, let’s accelerate to 88 mph and take a trip back in time. We find ourselves in the city of Sullivan on that more or less fateful date: 9/22/1960.

In case any Europeans are reading this, that’ll be 22/9/1960. Don’t get too confused, now.

On this date, Nixon was out on his presidential campaign. He was running against a Massachusetts senator, one John F. Kennedy.

As we know from history, a couple months later Kennedy would win the presidency. Nixon would have to wait until 1969 for his turn in the White House.

But on this September day, Nixon was in Sullivan on a campaign trip. For lunch, he was served the aforementioned bison barbeque sandwich.

Whether he wasn’t all that hungry or just straight-up didn’t like the sandwich has been lost to history. The facts are that he ate about half of it before proceeding to the park where he was supposed to debate Kennedy. However, Kennedy failed to show up, so Nixon took the chance to give a speech of his own.

While he was speaking, Steve Jenne – then a 14-year-old Boy Scout – kept an eye on the Senator’s unfinished lunch.

“Being the good Boy Scout that I was, I stood there and guarded that sandwich,” Jenne recounted to the University of Illinois.

Eventually, though, it became clear to Jenne that Nixon wasn’t coming back to clean his plate.

“I looked around and thought, ‘If no one else was going to take it, I am going to take it,’” Jenne told Herald & Review in a separate interview.

And so he did. The sandwich ended up in a glass jar in the Jennes’ freezer.

Onto the TV Screen

From Sullivan, the sandwich eventually relocated to Springfield when the Jennes moved house. When Steve Jenne eventually left his parents’ home to start a life of his own, the sandwich went with him.

In 1988, the aforementioned Herald & Review wrote a story of the sandwich, which at the time was of the ripe age of 28. The story went viral (or whatever the 1988 equivalent is), and Jenne ended up showcasing his artifact on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson.

The famous comedian Steve Martin was also a guest on the show that night. Always ready to crack a joke, Martin signed a paper plate he had eaten a chicken salad sandwich off of and handed it to Jenne.

Probably to everyone’s surprise, Jenne happily accepted the plate. He still owns it.

A Memento for the Ages

Let’s zoom back to the present day. Nixon’s sandwich and Martin’s plate are today part of a collection that has expanded to include scrap food from musicians Tiny Tim and Henny Youngman.

Jenne said that he never wanted to become famous by preserving celebrities’ half-finished snacks. It’s just a fun quirk, and undoubtedly a great conversation opener.

He has enjoyed the opportunities Nixon’s unfinished lunch has opened for him, though. In addition to The Tonight Show, the sandwich has brought Jenne into contact with other famous people and even an appearance on the I’ve Got a Secret game show in the 2000s.

With the sandwich’s 60th anniversary, he hopes that it will draw attention to the Nixon visit plaque in Sullivan’s Wyman Park. Maybe the city could use some extra tourist income.

When it comes to the sandwich itself, Jenne has no plans on getting rid of it.

“As long as I am living, that sandwich will be stored in my freezer in a container that is labeled, ‘Save, don’t throw away,’ ” Jenne said.

And really, why would Jenne throw the thing away? It’s come in handy enough in these past 60 years, so who knows what tomorrow might bring.

Actually, it’s election season right now. Wonder what Trump’s or Biden’s lunch would be worth in a few decades…

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