weird and wacky holidays happening in June

Polar Bear Swim

June 18, 2016, marks the 42nd annual Polar Bear Swim, celebrated in Nome, Alaska. Unlike many places in the USA’s lower 48 states (and Hawaii, of course), where taking a dip in the middle of June is a pleasure, splashing in the Bering Sea is not for the faint of heart.

polar bear swim nome

The water is barely above freezing. In fact, in some years, the swim has been rescheduled because the ice hasn’t broken up enough to allow participants to wade in from Nome’s East End Beach. (Rush in and rush right back out is a more accurate description.)

The Polar Bear Swim is part of the Midnight Sun Festival, held in Nome during its summer solstice, when the sun shines 22 hours of the day. Other festival events include the Gold Dust Dash, a four-mile foot race to win a gold nugget; the Midnight Sun Parade, with prizes for the best floats; and the Midnight Sun Annual Bank Robbery, a mock holdup of Wells Fargo Bank at high noon by gunslinging outlaws.

At 2 pm, roughly 100 people are expected to brave the icy water in bikinis, Speedos and various costumes. A bonfire will be built on the beach so everyone can warm up quickly after leaving the water. All swimmers will receive a certificate of achievement and join the ranks of people who’ve taken the plunge since 1975.

Whether it sounds like a rollicking good time or makes you want to dive under an electric blanket, there’s no doubt Nome’s Polar Bear Swim is a wacky holiday to rival Canada’s International Hair Freezing Day.

So jump in and tell your friends, “Come on in, the water’s f-f-f-freezing!”

Copyright 2016 Worldwide Weird Holidays

National Flip Flop Day

national flip flop dayJune 17, 2016, is National Flip Flop Day, a holiday invented by U.S. national restaurant chain Tropical Smoothie Café. On the third Friday of June from 2 pm – 7 pm local time, every customer wearing flip flops will receive a free Jetty Punch Smoothie.

Since 2007, the chain has raised funds for Camp Sunshine in Casco, Maine. There, children with life-threatening illnesses and their families can have fun while surrounded by professionals devoted to their emotional and medical support.

A week there usually costs $2,500. To date, Tropical Smoothie Café customers have donated $3,700,000. Their generosity has allowed every family to attend Camp Sunshine free of charge. While you enjoy your ésmoothie, why not donate the money you save to a worthy cause?

Happy National Flip Flop Day!

PS: In 2009, two New York Daily News reporters wore flip flops for four days, then had them swabbed. The lab tests found fecal bacteria, Aerococcus viridans, Rothia mucilaginosa, and Staphylococcus aureus, among other things. So after you get home, take those things off and wash your feet!

Copyright 2016 Worldwide Weird Holidays

Buzzard Day 2016

June 11, 2016, is Buzzard Day in Glendive, Montana, and neighboring Makoshika, the state’s largest park, which covers 11,538 acres at an elevation of 2,415 feet above sea level. It falls on the second Saturday of June and celebrates the return of turkey vultures to eastern Montana.

Buzzard Day

The name Makoshika (Ma-ko’-shi-ka) is derived from a Lakota phrase meaning bad land or bad earth. The park contains rock formations, the fossil remains of Tyrannosaurus Rex and Triceratops and miles of hiking trails and scenic drives.

Buzzard Day
Today’s main event is Montana’s toughest 10k run. There will also be a 5k run and a disc golf tournament. Kids can participate in a fun run/walk, play miniature golf and jump in a bouncy house. Lurch, a turkey vulture, will visit from ZooMontana, a 70-acre wildlife park in Billings that is the state’s only zoo.

buzzard day


A “Native American Heritage Display” will be on view. Since the 2010 census showed that only 2.4% of Glendive’s 4,935 residents were Native American (94.4% Caucasian, 0.5% African-American, 0.4% Asian, 2.3% other), we’re guessing there won’t be many Lakota on hand to man the booth.

Makoshika State Park’s newly renovated visitor center houses a Triceratops skull, other kid-friendly exhibits and, of course, a gift shop. Pick up souvenirs of your visit and learn about other park events including March for Parks, Montana Shakespeare in the Park and a summer youth program.

Happy Buzzard Day! Say hi to Lurch for us!

Copyright 2016 Worldwide Weird Holidays

June 7 is VCR Day

vcr day

Ampex VRX-1000, 1956

Today is VCR Day. It commemorates the date in 1975 when Sony Corporation supposedly released the Betamax videocassette recorder (VCR) made specifically for home use. Some histories place the release in November 1975. In any case, it beat JVC’s Video Home System (VHS) to market by a year.

A VCR records the analog audio and video of a television broadcast or other signal source onto a removable, magnetic tape videocassette for subsequent playback. A programmable timer allows the user to schedule the recording to initiate, run and conclude while unattended. It can also play back prerecorded tapes.

The history of the VCR reaches back to the Ampex VRX-1000, released in 1956. Due to its substantial size and prohibitive cost of $50,000, it was affordable only to television networks and largest individual stations. Toshiba, Philips, and RCA joined the fray; Sony partnered with Ampex for a while to share technology.

In 1965, Sony introduced the reel-to-reel type CV-2000—CV stands for Consumer Video—as its first home-use model. (One ad shows the price as $695.) In spite of Sony’s marketing, it was mainly used for medical and industrial applications. Companies jockeyed for position for another decade.

There are many theories about why Sony won the battle to beat JVC to market in 1975 only to lose the war. One irrefutable fact is that each videocassette format was compatible only with its own VCR, ensuring that VHS and Betamax would never be able to play nice.

Sony may have gambled on their customers’ desire for quality over quantity, making higher definition tapes that could record up to one hour of programming. While we value that today, it was much less of a selling point in 1975, when simply being able to record a show and watch it was more of a priority than being able to parse every speck of dust on M*A*S*H in hallucinatory detail.

When JVC released its VCR a year later, it used VHS tapes that held two hours. By the time Sony caught up, it was too late. VHS had become the standard. In 1981, Betamax had only a 25% market share. By 1986, it had dropped to 7.5% and continued to decline. Although it began to sell VHS recorders in 1988, Sony continued to make Betamax recorders until 2002 and only stopped making Betamax tapes as of March 2016.

Of course, VHS didn’t stay on top forever. JVC stopped manufacturing standalone VCRs in 2008, long after DVD and Blu-Ray players had supplanted them. Streaming services hope to put them out of business, too.

Can a direct neural interface be far behind? As long as it doesn’t require the skull drilling we see in science fiction movies and the monthly fee is good, we say bring it on!

Copyright 2016 Worldwide Weird Holidays