ALAPAHA, Ga. - Residents of this small farming town gathered Saturday to celebrate Hogzilla, a 12-foot-long wild pig that was supposedly shot by a hunting guide last summer and quickly grew into a worldwide legend.
The festival comes five months after the 1,000-pound hog was killed when it wandered out of swamps along the nearby Alapaha River, a haven for swine that escape pig farms and start living off the land.
The prodigious porker was remembered with a hog-calling contest and a greased-pig chase, as well as a float featuring a life-size replica of Hogzilla.
"Everybody is happy, smiling, excited. We're going hog wild," said Becky Davis, an organizer of an annual community gala that was held this year with a Hogzilla theme.
The hairy heavyweight supposedly measured 12 feet with 9-inch tusks, said Ken Holyoak, owner of the hunting plantation where the hog was killed near Alapaha, about 180 miles southeast of Atlanta.
But few have actually seen Hogzilla. Holyoak's only proof is a photo showing the guide with the beast dangling from a rope. Holyoak says Hogzilla was too old to butcher and too big to mount, so he buried the carcass in a grave marked by a white cross.
Festival organizers were initially skeptical of adopting a theme that confirmed Hogzilla's existence, so they chose to focus on the Hogzilla legend.
Holyoak said he has been interviewed by 200 newspapers and at least 24 television stations, as well as numerous radio broadcasts.
"It's been on the radio from Canada to Russia," he said. "I didn't know people would go that crazy over a hog."
The legend has propelled Chris Griffin, the guide who supposedly shot Hogzilla in June, from relative obscurity to celebrity status.
"They ask for my autograph," he said. "I've gotten used to it, but before it kind of freaked me out. I wasn't used to that much attention."
Taking A Bite Out Of Crime-Fighters
KANSAS CITY, Mo. - Police say a man bit an officer and his dog Friday after trying to stiff a cab driver on an early morning fare.
Mark. A McClarty, 28, of Kansas City, Kansas, was charged Friday with assaulting a police officer, resisting arrest and stealing.
Capt. Rich Lockhart said the suspect broke the skin on an officer's hand when he bit him. The man then nearly bit the ear off the police dog.
Lockhart said a cab driver told a police officer at 2:15 a.m. that someone had refused to pay a fare. When the officer found the man nearby and got out of his car to stop him, Lockhart said, but the man spun around and punched the officer.
Lockhart said the officer used a remote control to release his police dog from the patrol car, and the dog joined the fight. After the dog bit the suspect, the man bit back and nearly took off the dog's ear.
The suspect also bit the policeman's hand before other officers arrived and used a Taser stun gun to subdue him.
The officer was treated at a hospital, while the dog's ear was reattached by a veterinarian.
Coach Tries To Run Over Referee
CHISINAU, Moldova - The chairman of a Moldovan soccer team became so incensed when a penalty kick was awarded to the opponent that he drove his car onto the field and tried to run over the referee.
No one was hurt, and the game was called off.
During Saturday's first division game in Floreni between Roso Floreni and Politehnica Chisinau, referee Vitalie Onica gave Politehnica a penalty kick with the score 1-1.
After Politehnica made the kick, Roso chairman Mihai Macovei drove onto the field and attempted to run over the referee several times. Onica dodged the car each time.
Macovei left the field and was stopped by police officers when he tried to return, Politehnica coach Ion Caras. Macovei has made no comment.
The Moldovan soccer federation on Monday fined Macovei about $1,900, and an investigation is under way.
Beavers Shred Stolen Money For Dam
GREENSBURG, La. - Beavers found a bag of bills stolen from a casino, tore it open and wove the money into the sticks and brush of their dam on a creek near Baton Rouge.
"They hadn't torn the bills up. They were still whole," said Maj. Michael Martin of the East Feliciana Parish Sheriff's Office.
The money was part of at least $70,000 taken last week from the Lucky Dollar Casino in Greensburg, about 30 miles northeast of Baton Rouge.
Sheriff's deputies in St. Helena Parish, where the truck stop video poker casino is located, have accused a security guard at the casino of disabling its security cameras. Jacqueline Wall, 25, was booked with felony theft, Martin said.
She told investigators a ski-masked gunman made her help him empty all the casino's safes, then kidnapped her, knocked her out and left her in an uninhabited area in East Feliciana Parish.
Deputies had searched for the money for days before an attorney called with a tip: the money had been thrown into the creek. The attorney's client hopes to make a deal with prosecutors, Greensburg Police Chief Ronald Harrell said.
They found one moneybag right away. The second was downstream, against the beaver dam.
After trying unsuccessfully to find the third bag in the deep water near the dam, Martin said, deputies began to break it down to release some of the water so they could search in a shallower pool.
That was when they saw the dam's expensive decoration.
He said they eventually found the third sack, which still had some money left in it.
"The casino people were elated" to get the money back, even if some of it was wet, Harrell said.
Deputies found about $40,000, and expected to find the rest in a safety deposit box at a bank in Mississippi.
Charges Dropped In Funny Money Case
GREENSBURG, Pa. - A case of funny money has ended happily for a woman who had been charged with passing a bogus $200 bill with President George W. Bush's picture on it.
Prosecutors in Pennsylania's Westmoreland County dropped all charges Friday against Deborah L. Trautwine, 51, after she paid the store in real currency.
Trautwine "wasn't aware that it ... wasn't actual legal tender," said her attorney, Harry Smail Jr.
Trautwine could not be reached for comment. A clerk at a Fashion Bug clothing store also thought the bill was real and gave Trautwine $100.58 in change from her August purchase.
There is no $200 denomination bill, even without Bush's picture on it. None of the recent U.S. presidents has been depicted on the country's currency.
Police said the bill's phoniness should have been obvious for other reasons. It had a silly serial number - DUBYA4U2001 - and didn't bear the signature of the Secretary of the Treasurer. Instead, it was "signed" by Ronald Reagan, whose title was "Political Mentor" and by Bush's father, who is listed as "Campaign Advisor and Mentor."
The back of the phony bill depicted the White House with several signs erected on the lawn, including those reading "We Like Broccoli" and "USA Deserves A Tax Cut."
Rat Rescue Mission
ELYRIA, Ohio - Oh rats! Jennifer Mitchell's apartment is full of them. But she's not calling an exterminator because Mitchell runs a rat rescue mission. She's caring for dozens of the rodents in her Ohio apartment. They're mostly from people who took a fancy to pet rats, but got overwhelmed by too many baby rats. Mitchell feels keeping rats isn't as strange as you might think. Mitchell says rats are misunderstood. She adds there's a whole underground secret society of rat lovers. And a pet rat can live a life of luxury. The Internet is filled with companies selling everything from rat toys to fleece-lined hammocks for rats.
Singer Fined For Mexican National Anthem Flub
MEXICO CITY - A woman who fumbled a few phrases of Mexico's national anthem while singing the song before a soccer game in Guadalajara has been fined $40 for the blunder.
Guadalupe Madrigal acknowledged she got the words wrong while singing before an Oct. 30 soccer match between teams from Guadalajara and Monterrey, Mexico's Interior Department announced Saturday in a written statement.
"She indicated she was sorry to have sang the national anthem poorly," the department announced. "She indicated that she did not do it on purpose or with bad intentions, but recognized that she had made a mistake."
Madrigal, who could not immediately be reached for comment, could have been fined up to $950 under Mexican law mandating respect for the national seal, flag and hymn.
Officials decided to apply a $40 fine after taking into consideration Madrigal's economic situation - and the fact that thousands of spectators from across Mexico witnessed the performance.
It remained unclear what the offensive lyrics had been.