Record Number of 'Jackos' Invade Boston

When it comes to jack-o'-lanterns, Beantown isn't fooling around.

Bostonians on Saturday lit 30,128 pumpkins on Boston Common, leaving the previous record in their slimy, seedy, pumpkin-covered dust, The Associated Press reports.

"It's fantastic," said Jim Laughlin, a spokesman for Life Is Good, the Boston clothing company that sponsored the event. "We've been going after this record for a long time."

Keene, N.H., proud owner of the previous record of 28,952 glowing gourds, tried to keep up with the carvers in Boston but only managed to light 24,682.

"We had more pumpkins lit than people who live here," said Alan Davis, an organizer in Keene.

In Boston, more than 100,000 people gathered to prepare the pumpkins — even Mayor Thomas M. Menino, who greeted kids dressed as ghosts and angels.

But in the end, the friendly competitions were about more than pumpkin guts and ghouls — both raised thousands of dollars for charities.

The Cow Only a Moose Could Love

SHREWSBURY, Vt. (AP) — It was 20 years ago that a love affair between a moose and a Hereford cow caught the imagination of a nation and literally put this tiny mountain town on the map.

For 76 magical days in the fall of 1986, a bull moose variously dubbed "Bullwinkle," "Josh," "Bruce" and "Valentino" by townspeople and tourists visited Jessica the cow in her pasture.

Photos of the two nuzzling against the bucolic mountain backdrop became iconic after the national media latched onto the story. Thousands of visitors flocked to the farm to watch the two animals.

Shrewsbury gained such notice that locals theorize that's why mapmaker Rand McNally decided to include the town of about 1,100 on a new world map.

Larry Carrara, the now retired farmer who owned Jessica, said he still gets fan mail.

The most recent letter was postmarked Oct. 12 from Lexington, Ky. Signed by the Anders family's four children, it asks if the moose ever returned to Carrara's farm after that fall.

He never did.

"The night before he left, he slept under our bedroom window," Carrara recalled. "I told my wife that night that I knew he was leaving. Sure enough, the next morning when I went to work he was gone, and no one has seen him since."

On Sunday, residents gathered at the Shrewsbury Library for a showing of video footage from the time.

Carrara says he thinks what made the story catch on was that people were looking for something to smile about.

"Mostly, everything else was bad at the time," he said. "We'd just lost the astronauts [in the Challenger disaster of 1986], baby Jessica had fallen down the well and Gary Hart was getting caught cheating. You get so sick of seeing and listening to all the bad news that you need something good."

So Much for the Cause of Snake Liberty

HAUPPAUGE, N.Y. (AP) — Slim, the Long Island school python that escaped from its tank, is back in a classroom after a monthlong sabbatical.

The hunt for the loose reptile started when the 2-foot serpent disappeared from the sixth-grade science room he had occupied for five years at Hauppauge Middle School.

"I am happy to say Slim the Snake has returned and is safe and sound back in the tank," principal Maryann Fletcher said in a note to parents on Friday.

She said Slim was "in good condition" after emerging from its hiding spot Thursday evening, but did not indicate exactly where the snake was found. It was returned to its tank by custodians.

The principal guessed that the python — a cold-blooded serpent native to West Africa — might have come out when the heat was turned on this week.

Last month, teachers were putting Slim and another snake named Otis back into their containers when a student with a problem in the hall distracted them for a few moments.

Slim and Otis slithered off. Otis was caught. Slim was not.

To entice the critter out of hiding, the school set up heating lamps and traps filled with crickets — to no avail. Slim is now back to classroom duties, serving as a live demonstration for science classes.

As for his time away, the principal wrote, "I received a note as follows: 'Vacation was great! ... The food was nothing to talk about and it was hard to find good water ... Feels good to be home!' ssssssssssssss Slim ... peace!"'

Quarterbacks Don't Grow on Trees! Except on This One Street

NORMAN, Okla. (AP) — Maybe there's something in the water: In a span of 11 years, five Norman High School quarterbacks have grown up on one street in this city.

With more than half the houses in Cynthia Circle not having any children whatsoever, the fact that five came from a few homes still astounds residents.

"We just found it the weirdest thing," said Julie Taylor, the mother of former Tiger players Zac and Press Taylor.

While Zac Taylor may be the most well-known and athletically accomplished of the group, he was not the first.

That honor goes to Jade Noles. The line of succession then fell to Kale Hartsock, Taylor, Press Taylor and, finally, Sam Tullius, the current Norman High School signal caller.

While Noles' success could have sparked the others to follow his path, others felt it was in their genes.

"It wasn't a shock they are quarterbacks," Julie Taylor said. "The weird thing is they all came from the same cul-de-sac."

Fraudulent Fortune

DENVER (AP) — A former television news executive ordered to repay $181,500 in a securities fraud case got some help with the payback: He won $47,000 on the television game show "Wheel of Fortune."

Scott Alan McDonald said he would use the TV winnings to repay former co-workers and friends who gave him money to invest — money prosecutors said he gambled away. He pleaded guilty to felony theft in 2001.

"The game show was an opportunity I didn't think I would get," McDonald told The Denver Post for Friday's editions. "When it happened, I thought of it as an opportunity to pay people back quicker than I expected to be able to."

He said he expected to receive the winnings, about $26,000 after taxes, within about four months.

Prosecutors are looking into whether they can claim his winnings to repay the victims, Denver district attorney's spokeswoman Lynn Kimbrough said.

McDonald was originally indicted on charges of securities fraud, theft, forgery and working as a broker without a license. After pleading guilty to felony theft, he was sentenced to a community corrections program and given 12 years to repay the money. He could be sent to prison if he fails to repay.

Now a car salesman who lives in suburban Littleton, McDonald said he was chosen for "Wheel of Fortune" after the show held auditions in Denver last year. He said he was never asked about his criminal history. The show aired Wednesday.

A call placed to a "Wheel of Fortune" spokesperson was not immediately returned Friday.

"I've worked hard to rebuild my life as best I can and worked very hard to pay everyone back completely as soon as possible," McDonald said. "Now I'm just hopeful this doesn't screw things up."

Compiled by's Hannah Sentenac.

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