Originally created 06/14/05

Odds and Ends



SKOWHEGAN, Maine - Red Sox Nation would have been proud of Stanley Whitaker and Reagan Merrill.

For their weekend wedding, Whitaker was dressed in a Red Sox jersey with Jason Varitek's name and number on the back. The best man was decked out in Curt Schilling's jersey, and the ushers also wore Red Sox shirts.

Merrill and her father walked down the aisle to the accompaniment of "Take Me Out to the Ball Game." Bridesmaids carried carnations fashioned in the shape of baseballs.

For their vows, the couple promised to love, honor - and never cheer for the Yankees.

"Today, I consider myself the luckiest man alive," Whitaker said to Merrill, setting aside his Red Sox allegiance to quote from none other than Yankee great Lou Gehrig. "You are my heart and my soul, the love of my life."

She promised never to cheer for the Yankees, and then proclaimed: "I'll love you to the end of forever."

Jason Bersani, a Universal Life Church minister, presided over the ceremony even though he's a fan of the Yankees. "This will probably be one of the most bizarre things you've ever witnessed," he told the guests.

Following the ceremony, the newlyweds and guests went to a reception to dine on hot dogs, nachos and popcorn.

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SCHERERVILLE, Ind. - A 10-year-old Griffith boy didn't blow his shot at the big time.

Kyle Demaree blew a 10½-inch bubble at a local contest that could land him a spot in the Dubble Bubble National Bubble Blowing Contest.

He walked away with a trophy and a backpack for beating out about 100 other children in the local contest Saturday.

The top five bubble-blowers from local competitions nationwide will compete in the national finals in August for the grand prize of a $10,000 savings bond and a $1,000 donation on the winner's behalf to the Children's Miracle Network. Four runners-up will receive a $5,000 U.S. Savings Bond and $1,000 donations made in their name.

Last year's national winner was a 12-year-old Arkansas girl who blew an 18½-inch bubble.

Local contest participants used different bubble-blowing techniques. Some said it was key to chewing the gum for a long time to break down the sugar. Others said three pieces of gum worked better than one or two.

"I blew it slow," said 11-year-old Tanner Barham, of Griffith, whose biggest bubble was 9½ inches.

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ERIE, Pa. - The white blossoms clinging to branches outside the federal courthouse here may be related to roses, but in this case a rose by another name may smell sweeter.

About a dozen young hawthorn trees recently blossomed outside the entrance to the new federal complex in Erie, giving visitors and workers an eyeful of delicate, small, white flowers but also a noseful of what smells like something dead or rotting.

"They say, 'Oh my God, what is that smell out there?' We say, 'Oh, it's just our wonderful trees,'" said Frank Gressley, a U.S. Marshals Service court security officer.

It took awhile for people to figure out the blossoms were to blame for the nose-wrinkling smell.

The trees were planted as part of a $36 million renovation of the federal courthouse. Other plantings around the courthouse include white-flowered rhododendrons, honey locusts with comb-like leaves and creeping myrtle vines.

It's unclear why officials picked the hawthorn trees or placed them next to the front door.

The trees may have been selected more for their aesthetics than olfactory impact, said Jim Sellmer, an associate professor of ornamental horticulture at Pennsylvania State University.

"You have to ask, 'Do you not want your people to go to work?' It is a pretty flower, but the stench is enough to drive people away," Sellmer said.