Odds and Ends: Skeleton of famed gator Oscar to go on display

By The Associated Press

WAYCROSS, Ga. – The most famous resident of Okefenokee Swamp Park – an alligator that attracted the stares of tourists for decades – will soon be immortalized nearly a year after his death.

The skeleton of Oscar is being assembled and will be put on display like a museum dinosaur. The 14-foot, 1,000-pound alligator had roamed the swamp from the time the park opened in 1946.

As his bones show, Oscar was a tough customer, surviving a shotgun blast to the face, at least three bullet wounds, broken bones and arthritis. Gators have been known to live for decades, and by some estimates, Oscar was a particularly ancient 95 to 100 years old when he died last summer.

The display also will include what park officials found in Oscar’s belly – including a plastic dog collar, a dog’s tag, a penny and the top section of a flagpole.

“Some people think he’s a statue,” Danny Rowe, a tour guide, said of Oscar in 1996. “I tell people he’s real, but I don’t get paid enough to show them he’s real.”

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The Okefenokee is a 438,000-acre National Wildlife Refuge in southeastern Georgia that attracts 350,000 to 400,000 visitors a year. During the first years of the park’s operation, alligator wrestling was a popular attraction, park officials have said. That ended in the mid-1950s when, it is said, one of the gators rolled over on a park manager and broke the man’s arm.

The other famous Okefenokee alligator is fictional: a cigar-smoking critter named Albert in the late Walt Kelly’s long-running comic strip, Pogo.

On Vt. pond, spring arrives when cinder block falls

WEST DANVILLE, Vt. – Forget what the calendar says. In these parts, spring doesn’t arrive until the cinder block falls through the ice on Joe’s Pond.

The 65-pound block, which is placed on a wooden pallet on the frozen surface of the pond and tied to an alarm clock on shore each winter in a $1-per-chance guessing game, plunged into the water at 5:25 p.m. Friday.

Four people who guessed April 25 at 5:15 p.m. – the closest time – won $1,323 apiece in the annual Joe’s Pond Ice Out Contest, according to organizer Dave Parker.

Don Rogers, of Swartz Creek, Mich., Janet Egizi, of St. Johnsbury, Roxanne Gorham, of Lyndonville, and Joe Kelly, of Barre, were the winners. The contest drew 12,039 entries, many far from Vermont.

The earliest-ever ice out date was April 16, in 1998 and 2006.