Weird stories of 2019

A collection of images from some of LancasterOnline's weirdest stories of 2019.

The end of the year is a time to reflect and remember. We showed you our top stories of 2019 as voted on by you, the readers.

But our team was nostalgic and curious about the weirdest stories of the year.

Ariana Grande visited Whole Foods and Target.

A few months later, a bear visited Wegmans.

Here are 19 of our favorites, in no particular order.

1. Lancaster bear

The county was enthralled by the adventure of Lancaster bear in August.

The elusive black bear eventually climbed up a tree in the backyard of a residential property on West Chestnut Street near North Mary Street and was tranquilized by the Pennsylvania Game Commission. 

A hunter legally harvested Lancaster bear on Nov. 20 in Schuylkill County.

2. Deer-shaped wedding cake

Pam McNeal, a cake decorating supervisor at Shady Maple Farm Market, made a wedding cake. Duh, right?

But not just any wedding cake.

This one was a life-sized deer. Which is a perfect segue to our next story....also a giant confectionery....

How did Shady Maple create the viral deer cake? Lancaster County decorator explains.

3. 3-foot whoopie pie

Number three is a three-foot whoopie pie.

Also created at Shady Maple, the signature Lancaster County treat was made to be auctioned in June at the Clinic for Special Children's annual Lancaster County Benefit Auction.

In 2018, LNP/LancasterOnline polled readers. The perfect whoopie pie is the size of your palm, readers said. More than half of our readers liked palm-sized whoopie pies, followed by mini (around 2 inches). A few readers like them as large as possible - and probably bid on this one.

4. 'Fonz' gives thumbs up to Shady Maple

Speaking of Shady Maple, Henry Winkler tweeted about it.

Famous for his roles in "Happy Days" and "Arrested Development," the Fonz tweeted about the Lancaster County landmark in May.

Spoiler alert: he liked it.

5. Ariana sightings

In March, Ariana Grande was spotted at Whole Foods and Target.

She stopped and posed for photos, which is how we found out.

Grande is a past client of Rock Lititz, the local hub of world-class entertainment production firms, and was set to begin a tour later in the month.

A couple days later, she was tweeting about Lititz and Starbucks.

Lancaster County has seen a fair share of celebrities since 2015. We have a running tally:

6. The artist behind viral sketch

All the way back in February, we met an artist who helped police eventually catch the subject of her simple drawing: a thief who struck at Central Market.

7. Nation's first Cartoon Network Hotel

Not everyone has a Cartoon Network Hotel. In fact, no one else does. We got a sneak peek at the rooms, pool, arcade, cafeteria and more. 

8. 'Amish' on TikTok

Rebecca Fisher never expected her first video on TikTok, a mobile-only video-sharing app, to go viral. 

Fisher’s videos are unapologetically Amish.

It was her video that made us take a closer look at Amish teens and their use of social media:

9. Celebrity dummy

In early June, a ventriloquist dummy of "Call Me By Your Name" actor Timothée Chalamet was listed on eBay for an astounding $122,795.

In August, we talked to the York County man who created it.

10. From Ronks to reindeer

Add having a reindeer named after you to the list of accomplishments of Lancaster County's own Jonathan Groff. 

Cause that's a thing, apparently.

Visit Norway, the country's tourism board, recently released a promotional video thanking Disney and the four principal actors who voiced major characters in “Frozen II.” Ronks native Groff, who also appeared in "Glee" and "Hamilton," voiced Kristoff, Princess Anna's fiance.

11. When bees swarm

In April, a giant swarm of bees were chilling on the side of a building in the city. We got some photos when a beekeeper was called to remove them. With his hands.

Watch the live video here.

12. Gnome homes

Akron has a gnome village that was created out of the need to deal with a tree stump.

“Either I’m gonna dig that ugly stump up or do something. And I built that,” said Don Reese, pointing at the stump, now decorated with a shingle roof, a front porch and three gnomes. “And every time I come out, there’d be a crowd out here laughing at it.”

Years later, Reese has transformed this overgrown section of his backyard into a beloved stop on the trail. The gnomes celebrate holidays like Halloween and Christmas. Their luminaria on Veterans Day brought some to tears. To Reese, the gnomes and their world on the hillside are another creative outlet.

13. Trump's wedding cake

In February we reported that a cake made by Cedric Barberet, co-owner of Bistro Barberet & Bakery, sold for nearly $2,000 at auction.

But it wasn't even edible. It was part of the cake he made 14 years ago for Donald Trump's wedding to the former Melania Knauss.

14. An egg vending machine

John Slaymaker loves eggs. 

Slaymaker, 60, loves eggs so much that he had a vending machine created specifically for selling eggs. 

The vending machine, located at Slaymaker's home and mulch business on Prospect Road in Columbia, is one of a kind -- and it has been in operation for almost 20 years. 

As far as Slaymaker knows, his egg vending machine is the only one of its kind. 

15. Backyard python

A massive snake was found in the backyard of a Manheim Township residence on an October morning.

And not just any snake: an 8-foot python with a large lump in its belly.

Residents had to find a way to get the female python into a trash can after calling Manheim Township police, to no avail.

16. Rare copperhead sighting

Jesse Rothacker has cycled hundreds of county rail-trails over the years and never saw a single copperhead snake.

Then on a Sunday in September he came across two.

And they were mating.

17. Weird snake behavior

Also in snake news, a king snake at Forgotten Friend Reptile Sanctuary started its morning by eating a little snack — its own tail.

We had to put this at the top of our story: Warning: Graphic video is included in this article of a snake trying to swallow itself.

18. Women yelling at cats

You may have spotted a lot of women yelling at cats online lately.

The meme brings together “The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills” and Smudge the Cat and has a second life thanks to Reddit and social media.

We compiled our favorites that make sense in Pennsylvania, including mincemeat and chicken pot pie for Lancaster County.

19. An eagle rescue

In May, Dandon Miller was driving his motorcycle on Route 30 westbound near Downingtown when he noticed traffic had come to a halt.

Parking his bike on the side of the highway, Miller noticed that an injured bald eagle was blocking cars in the middle of the road.

He immediately approached the bird, wrapped his flannel shirt around her, and held her in his arms, he said.


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