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Florida was weird as only it can be in 2011

caines | 1/4/2012, 7:29 a.m.

TALLAHASSEE, Did you hear about the giant Lego man that washed up on Siesta Key beach? What about the man who walked into a bar, ordered a beer and disappeared for 30 minutes to rob a bank, only to return and finish his drink? Or how about the puzzling story of the baby grand piano that showed up on a sandbar near Miami? That's Florida, where weird is an everyday event. Over the past year, a 92-year-old Helen Staudinger fired four shots at a neighbor who refused to kiss her, a Delray Beach man cut off a piece of a dead whale that washed ashore planning to eat it and an 8-year-old girl gave her teacher some marijuana and said: ``This is some of my mom's weed.''

Piano mystery

The piano was a mystery for about a month. On Jan. 1, 2011, the charred instrument showed up on a Biscayne Bay sandbar, a couple hundred yards from shore. A 16-year-old student eventually admitted he put it there as part of an art project. A day after it was removed, someone set up a table with two chairs, place settings and a bottle of wine.

LARGE LEGO

It's still not clear how the 100-pound, 8-foot-tall Lego man washed ashore. The local tourism bureau hoped to use Lego man to promote the area, but the man who found it has placed a claim on it. He can keep it if the owner doesn't collect it before early next year. As for the bar-bank robber, he was arrested at his watering hole, not too long after the holdup. Author Tim Dorsey, whose novels include Florida strangeness both real and fantasy, said the state is an odd place because of its diverse, highly transient population. ``There's pockets of strangeness all over the country, but here it's a baseline lifestyle. There, it's the aberration. There, it's the tail end of the bell curve. Here, it's the peak of the bell curve,'' Dorsey said. It's probably why Lego man received more media attention than the $1.25 million worth of cocaine that washed up on a beach south of Port Canaveral in September and the $2.2 million in cocaine that washed up on a Fort Pierce beach the next month. There are a lot of odd drug stories in Florida.

METH COP

Like the Boynton Beach Police Department's 2010 ``Officer of the Year,'' David Britto who was accused of selling drugs in 2011. marijuana Mayor Or the marijuana found growing on the property of the 84-year-old Oak Hill mayor Mary Lee Cook. There were also several younger Floridians that contributed to this year's odd news. In Palm Beach County, an elementary school teacher opened an end-of-the-year gift from an 8-year-old student's grandmother _ and found toiletries and a loaded handgun. A Tampa woman upset with her 15-year-old son's bad grades forced him to stand on a street corner with a sign that read: ``Honk if I need an education.''

FAKE TWILIGHT VAMPIRE

A 15-year-old Florida Keys girl who is a big fan of the ``Twilight'' books and movies was afraid that her mother would get upset by the bite marks her boyfriend gave her after they acted out her vampire fantasy. She made up a story about being attacked; doubtful investigators got her to tell the truth. Deputies arrested an 18-month-old's father after they found the man passed out in his mobile home while the toddler was in the yard picking up beer cans and drinking from them.