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DECK THE HOLIDAY'S: 05/06/13

Monday, May 6, 2013

12 AMERICAN TOWNS WITH UNUSUAL CLAIMS TO FAME!!


  There may not be an official registry (or even an unofficial one), but that doesn't stop towns, states and countries across the globe from declaring themselves the "Capital of the World" for thing or another.
   Some self-proclaimed titles are pretty well justified. Hawaii, for instance, is called the "Macadamia Nut Capital of the World." Considering the Aloha State is said to grow 90% of the world's supply, we think it's an apt description.
   Other claims are not so black and white. Biloxi, Mississippi is often referred to as the "Seafood Capital of the World," but so is Calabash, North Carolina and Crisfield, Maryland. Which place deserves the nickname most? We'll leave that up to seafood lovers to hash out.
   We take a look at 12 towns in the good ol' U.S.A. that have found a way to differentiate themselves by "capitalizing" on what makes them unique, and well, a little unusual.





The Lost Luggage Capital of the World
Scottsboro, Alabama


     Ever wonder what happens to all of the lost airline luggage that goes unclaimed? Much of it winds up at the Unclaimed Baggage Center located in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains. Even with today's advanced baggage tracking technology, .005% of all checked luggage is permanently lost. That may seem like a small amount but it translates into an average of 7,000 lost luggage items that the Unclaimed Baggage Center is able to buy each day. Since Scottsboro houses the only store in the county that sells unclaimed baggage and the store is the size of a city block, we think it is indeed the "Lost Luggage Capital of the World."





The Fire Hydrant Capital of the World
Albertville, Alabama


    Let's not leave Alabama just yet. Not before we take notice of another town's claim to fame: fire hydrants. Albertville owes its legacy to the Mueller Company, a leader in the manufacturing of fire hydrants. After the Albertville plant produced its one-millionth hydrant in 1989, Albertville was declared the "Hydrant Capital of the World." A polished nickel-plated hydrant on a pedestal was even erected outside of the Chamber of Commerce to commemorate the occasion.






The Rolle Bolle Capital of the World
Ghent, Minnesota


      From Memorial Day to Labor Day, dozens of people take to the court next to the Silver Dollar Bar in Ghent, Minnesota to play Rolle Bolle. Pronounced "rollie bollie", this Belgian game gives a nod to horseshoes, bowling and bocce ball. The point of the game is to roll a small wheel closest to a stake at the other end of the court. If you wanted to try your hand at this outdoor game, you likely won't be able to purchase a set at your local sporting goods store. The little-known pastime is only played in a handful of places in the U.S. For more on this small (population: 300-or-so) town's sport of choice.






The Fruitcake Capital of the World
Claxton, Georgia

    Claxton was incorporated in 1911 and named for Kate Claxton (1878-1924), a popular actress at the time. However, today, it has another passion: fruitcake. Home to both the Claxton Bakery and the Georgia Fruitcake Company, each year millions of pounds of fruitcake are produced and shipped worldwide from this small community in Georgia. Texas residents, however, have their own "fruitcake" bragging rights. Located in the city of Corsicana, the Collin Street Bakery has been making it's world-famous DeLuxe Fruitcake since 1896.






The Cowboy Capital of the World
Bandera, Texas


    According to the Bandera County Convention and Visitor's Bureau web site, "Bandera embodies the cowboy in its strong rodeo tradition. Even today you'll often see horses tied to downtown hitching posts. Bandera County dude ranches offer a taste of the cowboy lifestyle with horseback riding, trail rides, and chuckwagon meals. Secluded cabins tucked away in the hills throughout the county are perfect for watching wildlife, listening to the birds, and gazing at the stars. At local honky-tonks, the music is lively, the dance floor is full, and the beverages are cold." Enough said.






The Honeymoon Capital of the World
Niagara Falls

    Yes, we know it's not completely American -- half of the Falls are Canadian -- but we decided to keep this pick on our list anyway. The destination's reputation as the "Honeymoon Capital of the World" dates back to the early 1900s, when that phrase began to be used in brochures and advertising. Today, the American side of Niagara Falls welcomes more than two million visitors each year, with approximately 90,000 being newlyweds and honeymooners from around the world. Tens of thousands more head to the other side of the falls, where many pick up their Official City of Niagara Falls Honeymoon Certificate.






Cow Chip Throwing Capital of the World
Beaver, Oklahoma


    Cow chips (a.k.a. dried cow dung) were an integral part of the pioneer experience. Settlers relied on them as fuel to cook food and heat their homes. Each fall, families would take their wagons to the pasture and load up on cow chips for the coming winter. Family members soon began competing against each other to see who could toss the chips into the wagon with the most accuracy. Fast forward to 1970 and the Town of Beaver turned that storied pastime into an actual sport and now bears the title "Cow Chip Throwing Capital of the World." Home to the annual World Championship Cow Chip Throw, people travel from all around the globe to see and even participate in the Cow Chip throwing contest, held the third weekend of April in Beaver, each year.






The Halloween Capital of the World
Anoka, Minnesota

   According to Anoka: The Halloween Capital of the World web site, "Anoka, Minnesota is believed to be the first city in the United States to put on a Halloween celebration to divert its youngsters from Halloween pranks. When Anokans awoke to find their cows roaming Main Street, their windows soaped and their outhouses tipped over, they decided something had to be done." So, in 1920 civic leaders suggested the idea of a giant celebration including a parade of costumed children. The town's love affair with the October holiday has been going strong ever since. Each year, multiple festivities take place during the week leading up to the big day.




The Jell-O Capital of the World
Le Roy, New York


   Located in upstate New York, this picturesque village is known as much for its tree-lined streets and stately Victorian homes as it is for being the birthplace of "America's most famous dessert." In 1897, Pearle Wait, a carpenter in Le Roy experimented with gelatin and came up with a fruit-flavored dessert which his wife, May, named Jell-O. He tried to market his product but he lacked the capital and the experience. In 1899, he sold his formula to a fellow townsman for the sum of $450. Jello-O would go on to become one of Le Roy's most important industries. Jell-O devotees who want to make a pilgrimage to Le Roy, can visit the Jell-O Gallery museum and see everything from memorabilia to past commercials.




The Earmuff Capital of the World
Farmington, Maine

    It is said that Chester Greenwood's ears turned "chalky white, beet red and deep blue" in the cold. It was this annoyance that motivated a 15-year-old Farmington boy to invent earmuffs. He called his contraption "The Greenwood Champion Ear Protector" and it proved an instant hit. Three years and a couple of improvements later, the United States Patent Office awarded him a patent. It was 1877 and Greenwood was only 18-years-old. He soon established a factory and by 1883, he was producing 30,000 muffs a year. Thus Farmington became known as the Earmuff Capital of the World. If you're in the area, there is a parade that celebrates Greenwood's birthday the first Saturday in December where you can see local police cruisers in the parade decorated as giant earmuffs.






The Carpet Capital of the World
Dalton, Georgia


   The Dalton Convention & Visitors Bureau puts it this way: "Dalton, Georgia is known as the "Carpet Capital of the World," and for good reason. More than 90% of the functional carpet produced in the world today is made within a 65-mile radius of the city. " The carpet and rug industry is the economic engine that drives this Northwest Georgia area, with nearly two billion square yards of carpet shipped annually. If you're in the market for floor covering, it's also home (not surprisingly) to a large number of carpet outlets.







Ice Cream Capital of the World
Le Mars, Iowa   

Designated the "Ice Cream Capital of the World" in 1994 by the Iowa General Assembly, Le Mars is home to ice cream maker Blue Bunny. "Today, more ice cream is produced in Le Mars by a single company than in any other city in the world!," the town's web site boasts. The town is also home to an ice cream museum, an almost 10-foot-tall ice cream sundae statue, a replica of an old-fashioned ice cream parlor and dozens of street banners bearing ice cream cones

THE TAKAYAMA FESTIVAL FROM JAPAN!!!






   The Takayama Festivals in Takayama, Japan, started in the 16th to 17th century.  The origins of the festivals are unknown; however they are believed to have been started during the rule of the Kanamori family.  Correspondence dated 1692, place the origin to 40 years prior to that date.  One of the festivals is held on the 14th and 15th of April and the other on the 9th ad 10th of October.
   The Spring Takayama Festival is centered on the Hie Shrine.  The shrine is also known as the Sanno Shrine, and the spring festival is also known as the Sanno Festival.  The Sanno Festival is held to pray for a good harvest and the Autumn Festival is for giving thanks.






   The Autumn festival is centered on the Sakurayama Hachiman Shrine and is referred to as the Hachiman Festival.  It is held after the crops are harvested.  The fall festival is one of the three largest festivals in Japan.  The other two are Kyoto's Gion Matsuri and the Chichibu Matsuri.





Floats

   The festivals are famous for the large ornate floats, or yatai, which roam around the city at night.  The floats date back to the 17th century, and are decorated with intricate carving of gilded wood, and detailed metal work, rich design, similar in style to art from Kyoto during the Momoyama period, and blended with elements from the early Edo period.  Detailed carving, lacquering and beautiful decorative metal works is found not only on the outside of the floats, but inside as well, under the roof and behind the panels, where the worked is amazingly detailed.  The floats are also gorgeously decorated with embroidered drapery.  The Uatai floats are lined up before dusk, and once the town become veiled in the evening darkness, as many as 100 chochin lanterns are lit on each of the floats.  The unique ornaments of the yatai floats look even better in the darkness of the night.  The floats are moved around the city by people but are wheeled carts and the bearers are not required to endure the load.  The floats are lit by traditional lanterns and escorted on a tour of the city by people in traditional kimono or hakama dress.  Each float reflects the district in Takayama to which it represents.






   The craftsmanship and the Hotei tai have intricate marionettes, which perform on top.  The puppet show is a registered as a "cultural asset".  The tall festive floats are displayed during the two days of both festivals.  During inclement weather the floats are returned to their storage houses.  The Takayama Matsuri Yatai Kaikan store four of the eleven fall floats; the others are stored in special storehouses throughout the city, when not in use.  During inclement weather, the outer doors to the Yatai Kaikan are open so visitors may view them.  The floats in the Yatai Kaikan are changed several times a year.






   The Yatai Kaikan is located in the northern end of Takayama's old town, a 15-20 minute walk from the station.  The Yatai Kaikan is open from 8:30 am. to 5:00 p.m., from March to November and from 9:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. from December to February.  The admission fee is 840 yen (approximately $10.10)






Puppets

   The puppets or marionettes are made of wood, silk, and brocade or embroidered cloth.  They are operated by strings and push rods from with the yatai.  Karakuri (mechanical) puppet plays performed on a stage are superb.  The puppets, like the Yatai, represent the skilled craftsmen of the area.  The puppets or the three marionettes on Hotei Tai (the god of fortune), require nine puppet masters to manipulate the 36 strings which make the marionettes move in a lifelike manner, with gestures, turns, and other movements.  A problem with the puppets are parts needed to repair the puppets.  The springs in the puppets are made of Right whale baleen and cannot be replaced with steel springs or the baleen of other whales.  Other materials used to make the springs cannot duplicate the movements of the springs made from the whale baleen.

ORANGE PUSHUP SMOOTHIES!!


When I was growing up, one of my favorite things to do was ride my bike with my friends to the local gas station’s mini-mart and reach into their freezer case and pull out an Orange Push-Up.


I loved Push-Ups and seeing those brightly colored dots meant that creamy orange goodness was soon going to be mine.
I love it when Push-Ups begin to melt because they taste even sweeter, creamier, and better.
The same was true with this smoothie.  As it began to melt, it got even better.
This smoothie is a dead ringer for Orange Push-Ups.
Don’t skimp on the sugar if you want it to taste exactly like an Orange Push-Up and I promise, it does.
Sweet oranges ‘n creamy perfection.
I used this mango-orange from Hawaii’s Own brand for the concentrate.  It was on sale for 99 cents for the can at my grocery store and I was
being cheap being budget conscious and didn’t want to buy the Minute Maid which was $3.29 for one can.
If you can’t find this concentrate, I’m sure any OJ concentrate or citrus juice concentrate blend should be fine.  I really didn’t taste mango per se, just an orangey citrus flavor.
This recipe made three good-sized smoothies and since I wasn’t going to drink them all at once, I popped the leftover smoothie mixture in the freezer and realized after the fact that I should have poured the extra into Popsicle molds for homemade Push-Ups.  Next time, I’ll do that.
For now, I’ve been eating it like orange sherbet style with a spoon from the glasses I poured it into and then froze.
And doing lots of slurping.
The variations of what I’m going to do with this addictive orange mixture is exciting and has my wheels turning:
1. Pour it into molds and freeze like traditional Push-Ups (or frozen into ice cube trays or poured into paper Dixie cups with a makeshift stick inserted and peel off the paper cup after it has frozen)
2. Freeze it and eat in a bowl as orange sherbert
3. Drink it smoothie style
Now if the weather could just warm up a bit so my teeth don’t chatter while I slurp copious amounts of orange sugary liquid.
But I’ll shiver and chatter for this stuff any day.
If you’re a fan of fruity and creamy smoothies, try:
Or just cut to a dessert smoothie with a Creamy Cookie Butter White Chocolate Banana Smoothie.  Use peanut butter or almond butter if that’s what you have available because there’s a cookie butter shortage.
Questions:
Do you like Push-Ups?
Do you like orange drinks?
I also love Orange Julius and Orange Crush soda.  I haven’t had either in years, but I am fond enough of Orange Crush to order Orange Crush checks.
I am apparently stuck in a 1982 timewarp where people still write out checks and long to lick melty Push-Up with dots on the paper wrapper from the gas station.
While I’m at it, I’d like to do this all while watching The Brady Bunch and Three’s Company reruns and use my bike as my primary mode of transportation.   Ahh, childhood memories.  And maybe I’ll pour an Orange Creamsicle soda while I’m at it, too.