Florida Man: a year in eccentricity, gators and crime

Leila MACOR
Where there is a Florida Man story, an alligator is not far away -- here is one in a canal at Everglades Holiday Park in Fort Lauderdale, Florida in April 2019 (AFP Photo/RHONA WISE)

Miami (AFP) - There is a Florida Man Twitter account, and for good reason -- the Sunshine State seems to be the scene of some of the wackiest news of any given year.

Thanks to the marvels of the internet, the exploits of "Florida Man" -- a wayward regular Joe, or a clumsy criminal -- are the stuff of social media legend. Their tales go viral in a hot second.

Of course, the abundance of wild animals -- we are looking at you, alligators -- help a lot.

Here are a handful of zany stories that came out of Florida in 2019, compiled from police and local news reports:

- Beware fast food outlets -

Many of us like to grab food or a drink on the run -- cars have drink holders for a reason, right? But in Florida, caveat emptor.

In January, a man found a World War II era grenade and put it in his truck. But then he decided he needed to run for the border -- to make a stop at Taco Bell, that is.

When he finally decided the grenade might be more pressing than his tacos, he called the 911 emergency line. Cue the bomb squad -- and a lot of questions about the guy's priorities.

In April, Starbucks was the scene of some more serious drama.

Police arrested a man who loudly proclaimed himself "The Saint" and told patrons sipping their lattes that a "turtle army" would destroy them.

He then marched into a police department in the town of Indialantic, near Melbourne, and yelled at an employee. He was charged with disturbing the peace.

- Crime stranger than fiction -

In January, a man was arrested on suspicion of drug possession. When police found three syringes in his rectum, he claimed ignorance, saying he had no idea how they got there. Ummm.....

Also that month, a man threatened to kill his neighbor with "kindness." Sounded innocent enough, until the man pulled out a machete with the word "kindness" written on it.

He was charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. His neighbor survived, with only a minor cut on his hand.

In August, a man was arrested for castrating another man -- badly. The pair met on a fetish website, eunuch.com. A camera was set up to record the procedure.

But the victim ended up bleeding heavily, and the suspect said he had learned his craft... growing up on a farm.

The suspect was charged with a felony for illegally practicing medicine resulting in bodily injury.

And in September, a couple arrested for riding bicycles while under the influence of alcohol... undressed and began having sex in the back of the police car that was taking them to the station.

They were charged with the DUI -- and exposing "sexual organs."

- Animal kingdom -

Florida makes people do crazy things, especially when there is an animal involved.

In May, during an early-morning traffic stop, a female passenger pulled a baby alligator out of her yoga pants when the officer asked her what she had.

As it turns out, she also had dozens of baby turtles in a backpack.

That same month, a python ended up in a Florida man's toilet -- the true stuff of nightmares. The man ended up with a bite on his arm.

In July, a 75-year-old man battled with an eight-foot (2.5-meter) alligator to save his daughter's golden retriever. The man kicked the reptile in the snout and ran to safety.

The following month, a similar drama: a man hears a ruckus outside his home and rushes out to see an alligator with his chocolate Labrador retriever in its mouth. The man pried the gator's mouth open and saved the dog.

Moral of the story: beware roving alligators.

- Super meta -

In March, the interwebs got in on the Florida Man fun. You've heard of the Ice Bucket Challenge -- this was the Florida Man Challenge.

Type "Florida Man" and your birthday into a search engine and see what comes up as the craziest news from that day.

- POTUS joins the ranks -

The state earned one more Florida Man this year: none other than President Donald Trump, who ditched his residency in New York to make Mar-a-Lago his new home.