Disneyland Guns for a Return
Of Theme Park Traditions
Skippers on Disneyland's Jungle Cruise used to fire "warning shots" over the heads of ear-wiggling mechanical hippos to discourage the animals from attacking the boats and its passengers, but in recent years, political correctness intervened, and skippers were stripped of their trusty Smith & Wesson .38 Specials.
Disney traditionalists mourned the loss of the popular gag -- along with the removal of mock frontier rifles from Tom Sawyer Island and a decision to keep the pillaging pirates of the Pirates of the Caribbean from chasing damsels in distress.
Well, the pirates will continue to chase chickens instead of women, and the island will remain gun-free, but the jungle boat skippers are getting their guns back.
Some of Disneyland's other traditional touches are making a comeback as the park spruces up for its 50th anniversary bash. The teacups of the Mad Hatter are getting their dizzying twists restored, and even Sleeping Beauty's Castle -- the icon of Disneyland -- is getting a facelift.
"Our guests are really enjoying the pieces that are being restored," said Rob Doughty, Disney's vice president of communications. "Some people even applaud when they fire the warning shots."
-- Kimberly Edds
Peace Activist Gets First Jail Term
For six decades, Lillian Willoughby marched for peace and somehow -- throughout protests against war, nuclear proliferation and racism -- she managed to stay out of jail.
But now, just shy of her 90th birthday, her luck ran out.
Last week, Willoughby wheeled herself into the Federal Detention Center in Philadelphia to begin serving a seven-day jail sentence for a misdemeanor charge. Along with a hundred or so other activists, she had blocked a courthouse entrance the day after the U.S. military entered Iraq.
Prison officials told the Philadelphia Inquirer that no special arrangements would be made for the elderly Quaker but that the jail was wheelchair-accessible.
Well-wishers with banners cheered her on, yelling, "We love you, Lillian."
At her sentencing, Willoughby seemed upbeat and told reporters, "This is the start of a great adventure."
-- Michelle Garcia
Cowboys Fans Are Asked to Mask
Their Loyalties While Voting
This is Dallas Cowboys country, but for those voting in the City of Arlington, the distinctive blue star of America's Team -- the T-shirt, jersey and cap logo of choice in Texas -- has been ruled a no-no this election.
The 200,000 registered voters in Arlington, who will decide whether taxpayers should help pay for a $650 million Cowboys stadium, have been asked to leave their favorite duds at home. Under Texas law, it is illegal for voters to go to the polls wearing clothing, jewelry or buttons that promote or denounce a candidate or a ballot proposition. Tarrant County elections officials, who are running the election for the city, decided the Cowboys logo constituted support for the stadium proposition.
In case a voter shows up at any of Arlington's 60 polling places sporting Cowboys regalia, the election judges are prepared. They have stocked up with thousands of white paper smocks -- just like the ones worn during medical exams -- for the voter to wear in the voting booth. Any leftover smocks likely will be donated to the Tarrant County health department.
"This is a presidential election, so our focus is people be allowed to vote," said Gayle Hamilton, Tarrant County's assistant elections administrator. "We didn't want to have to subject our election judges to turning people away and say, 'You're going to have to go home and change.' "
-- Sylvia Moreno
Michigan College Puts Its Money
On New Equestrian Center
Images of the horse in art, the business of running an equestrian center, and the chance to get out and ride a horse are some of the ways horses are likely to be incorporated into different curricula at Albion College.
Since the opening of a 30-horse equestrian center on the campus in south-central Michigan, it is one of only a few such centers on college campuses in the country.
The center, which includes indoor and outdoor arenas, grooming areas, veterinary care bays and tack rooms along with the stables, will house students' horses as well as horses owned by the university.
The idea came from a 2003 graduate who did research to convince the university the center would be a success.
Peggy Stindt, owner of a local horse breeding operation and chairman of the steering committee that planned the center, noted that horses are popular in the rural area surrounding Albion and even students with no background in horses will be drawn in by the center.
"Besides the obvious things like riding them, there are intriguing ways to integrate them into strictly academic disciplines," Stindt said. "It could be in biology, philosophy or religion. If a psychology course is examining how to set behavior through training, you could look at the horses."
-- Kari Lydersen