Some weird laws in states still remain

Posted on: January 12, 2011

Each New Year brings on more laws for citizens in different states to follow. But when a law has reached its “peter principle” it becomes downright silly. You would think lawmakers would take it off the books. Here are some of the five weirdest laws in America.

Weird Law No. 5

Monsters Must Be Licensed — Urbana, Illinois

This one has grown to legendary status online in various forms along the lines of “Monsters are not allowed inside the city limits of Urbana.” But that’s not entirely true: Monsters are allowed; they just need to be licensed.

The basis for this strange city requirement can be found in an act from 1872, which states that “exhibitions of freaks of nature or monsters” staged for profit within city limits must first receive a license from the city clerk. Of course, if you were bringing a monster show to Urbana for charity, well, then no license required.

Weird Law No. 4

No Tobacco, Alcohol For Park Animals — Dyersburg, Tennessee

If you ever find yourself with time to kill in the western Tennessee town of Dybersburg, be sure to not contribute to the delinquency of a squirrel in the city’s parks. That’s because the city’s code prohibits “giving an animal or bird tobacco, alcohol or another known noxious substance in city parks.”

What could have possibly been going on in this city of 18,000 that would inspire such a head-scratcher of a law? Maybe some people were all too willing to let crows and other wild birds bum cigarettes? Or perhaps there was a rash of people trying to string out rabbits on meth? Whatever the reason, it’s just good to know that somebody’s looking out for the sobriety of woodland animals in The Volunteer State.

Weird Law No. 3

Rural Drivers Must Fire Signal Flares Every Mile – Pennsylvania

At one time these Pennsylvania “rules of the road” set up by the Farmer’s Anti-Automobile society probably made pretty good sense. After all, with autos in the early part of the 20th century sharing country roads with the livestock, you couldn’t be too safe, right? Thus, this requirement was made for drivers on rural roads outside of towns of at least 500 residents. After firing his (yes, HIS) rocket flare, the motorist was required to wait 10 minutes to ensure all livestock had been startled off the road.

The rules also called for a motorist to pull off the road and cover his vehicle so as not to spook an approaching team of horses. And if the horses still were startled? The motorist then had to “quickly and completely disassemble his motorized vehicle and hide it under the nearest brush or shrubbery.”

Weird Law No. 2

No Baths In The Winter — Clinton, Indiana

Like our last law, the long-forgotten prohibition against bathing in the winter in this Indiana town comes from a simpler — and apparently less hygienic — time. In the mid-1800s, laws regulating when and how people could bathe were all the rage.

In Boston, people were prohibited from bathing on Sundays, and a doctor’s note was needed on other days. Florida and Portland, Ore., once had laws requiring bathers to wear a bathing suit or other clothing. And Virginia law forbade bathtubs in the house, relegating them to the yard instead.

At that time most doctors thought that people became sick when they got wet or chilled. With some researchers calling for more frequent baths to wash away germs, doctors disagreed and pushed for the bathtub laws. If you do bathe — and find yourself in Pennsylvania while doing so — just don’t sing in the tub. That used to be illegal too.

Weird Law No. 1

No Ice Cream Cones In Your Back Pocket — Lexington, Kentucky

This may sound strange but lawmakers were looking out for you. Not only in Lexington was this once the law of the land but also in states such as Alabama and Georgia. What was the reason? Very simple: To stop people from stealing horses.

As anyone who’s ever seen a western can attest, horse thieves were just about the lowest no good, dirty, rotten scoundrels around. Some sunk even lower by using the promise of a pocket ice cream treat to lure horses away. If caught, they could always claim the horse simply followed them home.

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