Friday, January 2, 2015

The 2015 Fabrications: Traffic Light Eight Ways


The mayor of Tempe, Arizona is presented with one traditionally sacrificed octopus every 10 years which is then consumed in full on the third Tuesday of August.

The Background:

This tradition dates back to July, 1975, when the mayor of Tempe, Joseph Thomas, gave a speech to his constituents regarding a new traffic signal being placed at the corner of Main St and Bellawood Dr. In the midst of his speech, a local townsperson spoke up and heckled the mayor relentlessly. Mayor Thomas had to stop his speech and address his distractor.
The Tempe resident was named Helena Whels and was the oldest living person in Tempe. Her family, friends, and neighbors all understood that Ms. Whels was deep into the throes of senility, but Mayor Thomas still listened to the aged woman patiently.
Ms. Whels screamed and cursed for 10 minutes in the middle of the mayor's speech, ending her rant with a claim that "only when the black blood of the 8-legged water creature is consumed with its flesh by the leader of the people shall the light of the traffic gods shine brightly." Most onlookers laughed at the crazed woman, but Mayor Thomas, being a shrewd politician, calmly explained that he planned to do just that. In addition, he was forming a committee to select only the most worthy octopus.
Mayor Thomas was able to calm Ms. Whels that afternoon, but was held to his word by a growing movement in Tempe, who from that day forward dubbed themselves the "Delicious Octopus Traffic Society" or "DOTS" for short. DOTS sent an octopus to city hall every day for a month until Mayor Thomas finally submitted to the meal.
As soon as the mayor's feast was finished, Mayor Thomas, the members of DOTS, and Ms. Whels sat down to discuss any future meals. Ms. Whels confirmed that she had no idea what she was doing there, but the members of DOTS, seeing an opportunity to embarrass the mayor further, claimed that she told them an octopus had to be eaten every year. Mayor Thomas was able to negotiate the sacrificial octopus meal to once every decade, smartly assuming he would no longer be mayor at that point.
Two months later, Joseph Thomas resigned in disgrace after admitting he preferred Sonny to Cher. The following spring, Ms. Whels passed away and the traffic signal at the corner of Main St. and Bellawood Dr. was replaced with one of those odd European-style traffic circles. Finally, one year later, to the date of the original meal, the members of DOTS successfully lobbied to have "Mayor Eats an Octopus" day declared a holiday in Tempe.

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