Urban Legends “Tour” Hits Florida, Georgia and Hawaii

Monsters, ghosts and an angry goddess haunt urban legends: Internet Scambusters #478

Mostly they’re simply not true, but that doesn’t stop people
from passing around urban legends — far-fetched stories of
hauntings and bizarre discoveries.

This week we visit Florida, Georgia and Hawaii in our
alphabetical, state-by-state series that focuses on some of
the most common urban myths.

We’ve got monsters, hidden rooms, hauntings, secret police
speeding-ticket campaigns and an angry goddess to tell you
about.

However, we encourage you to take a look at this week’s most
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Grilled Portobello Mushrooms, Plus Dessert: You can’t beat this delightful veggie combo the next time your barbecue grill is fired up!

Let’s get started…


Urban Legends “Tour” Hits Florida, Georgia and Hawaii


We’re back on the road this week with our alphabetical,
around-the-states tour of urban legends, stopping off in
Florida, Georgia and then hopping halfway across the Pacific
Ocean to Hawaii.

Urban legends, as a reminder, are stories that usually have a
fantastic element that’s almost unbelievable. Yet they
persist. And sometimes they’re even true — or at least no
one’s quite sure about them.

As author Jan Harold Brunvand says in his urban legends book
Too Good To Be True: “(I)t’s not really truth or fiction that
defines an urban legend.

“As with any folklore — and these stories are definitely part
of our modern folklore — the defining qualities are oral
repetition and variation.”

Florida Urban Legends

That’s certainly the case with one of Brunvand’s tales called
The Mexican Pet, which has a New York couple, vacationing in
Florida, who rescue a poor, bedraggled dog while on a boat trip.

Unable to trace the owner, they take it home where it promptly
attacks (and eats, in one variation) the family cat. When they
take it to the vet, he tells them it’s not a dog but a Haitian
rat.

Actually, the original version of this story has the couple
buying what they’re told is a Mexican chihuahua, which, again,
turns out to be a rat.

As you might expect, there are also lots of urban legends
associated with Florida’s number one attraction, Disney World.

These include a claim that Cinderella’s Castle had a secret
room for Walt Disney and his family to use during visits, when
in fact, the castle was actually built after Disney’s death.

Another secret chamber elsewhere in the park is supposed to
contain Disney’s cryogenically frozen body, when in reality
the entertainment king was actually cremated and his ashes
buried in Glendale, California …at least, as far as we know!

Like most states, Florida also has its own “monster” — or
rather, several of them.

There’s the 15-foot rattlesnake supposedly found in
Jacksonville, a spider called the Two-Striped Telamonia that
emerges from toilet bowls, and a sea creature called The
Montauk Monster.

True or not? We’re not saying, but the Miami Sun-Sentinel
newspaper has a list, with photos, of 40 supposed Florida
monsters
.

Georgia Urban Legends

In the state of Georgia, many of the monster-type urban
legends relate to wild hogs variously claimed to weigh between
800 and 1,000 lbs. Many of them include supposed photos of the
beast that is usually nicknamed Hogzilla.

However, there may be an element of truth in some of these
stories, which also turn up in Arkansas, because hogs, at
least in captivity, have been known to reach this kind of
weight.

On the other hand, reports of a massive, state-wide police
fundraising campaign through what’s been called a “speeding
ticket frenzy” is known to be a hoax.

An email about this campaign has been circulating in the state
for the past couple of years.

According to the message, state troopers, patrolling in a new
fleet of 30 unmarked cars, have been ordered to pull over a
speeding motorist at least every 20 minutes, even if they’re
just doing a couple of miles above the limit.

The aim is said to be to raise $9 million.

While there’s no doubt that Georgia, like all states, wants to
stop speedsters, there are no such targets — either for
fundraising or time intervals, and no specially-acquired fleet
of unmarked cars.

One of the most geographically widespread urban legends, known
as Crybaby Bridge, turns up in Georgia.

In this myth, the sound of a crying child is said to come from
below a road bridge where there has usually been an accident.

Georgia’s Crybaby Bridge is in Columbus and the storytellers
say that if you stop there and put baby powder on the hood of
your car, footprints will mysteriously appear.

Learn more about the Crybaby Bridge urban legend story on this
fascinating Wikipedia page.

And you can even do a tour of supposed Crybaby sites in the state of Ohio.

Hawaii Urban Legends

Many of Hawaii’s urban legends are rooted in centuries-old
folklore, but there are also a number of more modern
creations, though we’ll steer clear of the more politically
controversial ones.

We know for sure that a park ranger invented a cunning urban
legends story to stop visitors from removing lava rocks as
souvenirs from Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.

Drawing on an ancient legend that the Hawaiian Goddess of
Volcanoes, Pele, lives atop Mt. Kilauea, he spun a tale
claiming that anyone who removed lava rocks and took them home
would be cursed by the goddess.

Apparently, after the story was published, scores of people
mailed back rocks they had taken home.

Here’s another one aimed at tourists that common sense tells
you can’t be true.

We’re back to bridges. In this case, the Seven Bridges of
Manoa, in Paradise Park, just outside of Honolulu.

According to the legend, if you count the seven bridges as you
follow a trail, you’ll find only six on your way back!

And finally, Hawaii features in a gruesome and unproven urban
legend that also places Dallas, Texas and even Mumbai, India
as its location.

The story, which circulates by email, warns visitors about an
infected syringe that’s either placed on a movie theatre or
nightclub seat or in the coin slot of a call box phone.

There’s no evidence it ever happened.

From grim to grin-worthy, urban legends continue to fascinate
us.

Mostly, they’re harmless but some are obviously worrying.

As always, we suggest that when you come across urban legends,
especially in an email message, do an Internet search before
taking it too seriously — and definitely before passing it
on.

Time to conclude for today — have a great week!