BOSTON – It was a year when a bear vacationed on Cape Cod, a third-grader dodged jury duty, and police briefly pursued a monster in Boston.
Weird news grabbed lots of headlines in New England in 2012.
Wildlife officials believe a black bear that visited Cape Cod was the first of its kind to do so after swimming across Cape Cod Canal on Memorial Day weekend.
The 180-pound bruin became wildly popular during its more than two-week trip to the peninsula’s tip.
People documented bear sightings with photos and videos, and a Twitter feed and a Facebook account purporting to belong to the bear were created.
Authorities captured the bear and took it to central Massachusetts but had to relocate the animal again a couple weeks later when it appeared in suburban Boston.
In other appearance matters, the grandmother of 9-year-old Jacob Clark told him he had a good excuse to miss school after he got a court summons in March.
“I was like, ‘What’s a jury duty?’ ” the boy asked.
Turns out, someone had typed 1982 instead of 2002 in records of Jacob’s birth year.
Another birthday made headlines in September when a woman delivered her newborn in the New Hampshire Motor Speedway parking lot.
Shawna Arnold was heading to a hospital when she and her boyfriend made the pit stop because her baby was on the fast track to being born. The speedway’s general manager awarded the baby two tickets to NASCAR races for life.
In other ticket news, a Massachusetts man hit a $1 million jackpot in August after a store clerk gave him a scratch-off lottery ticket that was not the one he’d asked to buy. Richard Brown said he “rolled with it,” and soon he was rolling in cash. He opted for a one-time lump payment of about $430,000 after taxes and a $10,000 commission went to the store.
At a seafood store in Mansfield, Mass., a 100-pound shipment of lobsters came with a surprise in June. Inside were six orange lobsters, still living, that were said to be a 1-in-10-million oddity because of their coloring.
Also this year, a Maine fisherman caught a calico lobster considered a possible 1-in-30 million find, and a Massachusetts fisherman caught a 1-in-50 million lobster known as a split. Trapped around Halloween, the lobster happened to be colored to match the holiday, with one orange and one black side.
Nature provided plenty of other strangeness in 2012.
In March, a cat named Sugar survived a 19-story plunge from a Boston apartment window, suffering only lung bruising.
In September, a poodle mix named Suzie got wedged into the grille of a car that hit her after she ran into the road. The fluffy white pooch suffered a concussion and other minor injuries but lived to bark about the 11-mile ride from Massachusetts to Rhode Island. The driver who hit the dog slammed on the brakes but didn’t know the dog was trapped until another motorist noticed it miles later.
Other animals were more elusive. In Vermont, a man took out a newspaper ad that read: “Free emu if you can capture it.”
The owner of the 150-pound flightless bird actually bought three emus for his grandchildren but found they didn’t make great pets when one escaped from his farm. Residents around South Hero and Grand Isle reported February emu sightings, including when it walked by a school principal’s office window. A school employee tried to lasso the bird with an extension cord, but it broke free.
An unidentified jogger in Springfield, Mass., also enjoyed some liberation this year. Police got several December reports of a man jogging nude in the early morning through the same section of the city. While giving new meaning to the term “fitness buff,” police said the jogger also was exposing himself to potential lewdness and indecent exposure charges.
In Uxbridge, Mass., authorities had no trouble apprehending a woman in June after her car got stuck in a golf course sand trap.
Her explanation? Her GPS told her to turn left, which she said led her through a cornfield and onto the golf course. Her consequences? She was arrested on charges including a drunken driving offense and driving with a suspended license.
Police in Maine arrested a 34-year-old New Hampshire man in December after his months-earlier call to police alleging that a prostitute hadn’t given him his money’s worth. Authorities said the man’s complaint that he’d been shorted by 10 minutes also led to the arrest of two alleged prostitutes.
In Barton, Vt., the only thing missing after an August library break-in was a date stamp used for checking out books. But the burglars did do some redecorating. They stacked some furniture into a pyramid about 20 feet high in the center of the library, and put more on top of bookshelves.
In Manchester, Conn., a suspect also made off with just one item during a June theft. But a police dispatcher had trouble relaying the crime report to officers, cracking up while trying to say a man jumped out of a car and stole an American flag from a man wearing a chicken suit.
The chicken-suited man had been dancing and waving the flag around outside a newly renovated Boston Market restaurant as part of his job.
And in Boston, police got involved in a different mascot-related caper after a July report that someone had made off wearing the Red Sox’s Wally the Green Monster costume and fled downtown.
Several officers began canvassing for the suspect after the call about a larceny in progress, and police also tweeted an alert.
“Missing: Wally the Green Monster,” it said, adding, “If seen please call Boston Police.”
By about 90 minutes later, police discovered that a team employee took the costume and didn’t tell a supervisor.
“Wally the Green Monster is safe,” authorities then declared. And Red Sox Nation breathed a sigh of relief.