Odd News -- December 15, 2008

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) - American Red Cross volunteers are reaching for a million. They hope to send a million holiday cards and letters to U.S. troops serving around the world. The cards will be going to everyone from injured soldiers being treated in U.S. hospitals to G.I.s in the war zones of Iraq and Afghanistan. Over the weekend, some of those volunteers sorted piles of cards for the Red Cross' Central West Virginia chapter. Last year, the Holiday Mail for Heroes program distributed some 600,000 cards.

NEW YORK (AP) - A New York Nativity scene is getting as crowded as a rush-hour subway. Four decades ago, the Nativity scene at one Catholic Church (St. Athanasius) in Brooklyn started with the three wise men visiting the baby Jesus and some other statues. This season there are more than 300 figures and 30 houses. The wise men are now joined by hundreds of shepherds, peasants and even a babbling brook. But at the center is the original manger that hasn't changed in 40 years. The Italian immigrant who made it (Antonio Vigilante) says it just wouldn't be Christmas without the display first created in the 1960s.

LA PLATA, Md. (AP) - Lawyer Jessica Snow Barnes finds relief and
does a little moonlighting -- in her own kitchen. The Southern Maryland attorney bakes cookies using her great-grandmother's recipe. Her hobby has turned into a thriving sideline, making cookies for special occasions. She's busy this time of year, baking sugar cookies in the shape of candy canes, Christmas stockings and snowflakes. Barnes has also found love thanks to her baking. She says a friend became her boyfriend, after some cookies helped tobreak the ice.

YORKTOWN, N.Y. (AP) - No pants -- but no jail time for a Dunkin' Donuts customer. John Greco has been sentenced to three years probation after showing up at a doughnut shop drive-through window without his drawers. He pleaded guilty to public lewdness, admitting he exposed himself at a Yorktown, N.Y., Dunkin' Donuts earlier this year. A doughnut shop worker noted Greco's license plate number and give it to police.

FORT PIERCE, Fla. (AP) - A Florida woman is charged with getting high -- on a roof. Police in Fort Pierce say Amber Smith was drinking beer on the roof of a home. Officers say a man called to complain about her. According to police, the man said Smith told him she would leave if he bought her some more beer. She's now charged with disorderly intoxication.

NEW YORK (AP) - There are a lot more than pigeons in New York's Central Park. Bird lovers flocked to the park yesterday for the annual Christmas Bird Count. It's organized by the New York chapter of the Audubon Society. City parks officials say the birdwatchers counted 55 species, for a total of just over 6,000 birds. Of course, there were plenty of sparrows and pigeons. But some of the more unusual sightings included a wild turkey and a peregrine falcon.

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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