That's illegal? 5 weirdest laws in America

Strange laws remain long after they are enforced

By Joshua Nichols, Staff writer
Headline Goes Here iStock / zimmytws

If there aren't enough rules to keep track of, each year brings even more new laws to follow.

The question is will they stand up over time or join the ranks of since-forgotten laws that look quite silly today?

While you can indeed find such obsolete or down-right dumb laws in old law books, many of the funniest examples that have grown to the point of legend online simply aren't true.

For instance, you may have heard that Arizona has outlawed camel hunting, that Minnesota won't let you transport a duck on your head across state lines, or that you can't lasso a fish in Tennessee. All hilarious -- and all completely untrue.

But we've rounded up five of the weirdest real laws you'll ever laugh at. Just don't ask the local authorities to arrest you for breaking them or you're likely to get an even bigger laugh.

No. 5: Monsters must be licensed -- Urbana, Ill.

This one has grown to legendary status online in various forms along the lines of "Monsters are not allowed inside the city limits of Urbana." But that's not entirely true: Monsters are allowed; they just need to be licensed.

The basis for this strange city requirement can be found in an act from 1872, which states that "exhibitions of freaks of nature or monsters" staged for profit within city limits must first receive a license from the city clerk.

Of course, if you were bringing a monster show to Urbana for charity, well, then no license required.

In all seriousness, you have to applaud the forefathers of Urbana who had the vision to protect the east-central Illinois city from freely roaming monsters. After all, think of the all the damage Tokyo would have been spared if it had had the foresight to license Godzilla.

No. 4: No tobacco, alcohol for park animals -- Dyersburg, Tenn.

If you ever find yourself with time to kill in the western Tennessee town of Dybersburg, be sure to not contribute to the delinquency of a squirrel in the city's parks.

That's because the city's code prohibits "giving an animal or bird tobacco, alcohol or another known noxious substance in city parks."

One has to wonder at the origin of this one. What could have possibly been going on in this city of 18,000 that would inspire such a head-scratcher of a law?

Maybe some people were all too willing to let crows and other wild birds bum cigarettes? Or perhaps there was a rash of people trying to string out rabbits on meth?

Whatever the reason, it's just good to know that somebody's looking out for the sobriety of woodland animals in The Volunteer State.

No. 3: Rural drivers must fire signal flares every mile -- Pennsylvania

At one time these Pennsylvania "rules of the road" set up by the Farmer's Anti-Automobile society probably made pretty good sense.

After all, with autos in the early part of the 20th century sharing country roads with the livestock, you couldn't be too safe, right?

Thus, this requirement for drivers on rural roads outside of towns of at least 500 residents. After firing his (yes, HIS) rocket flare, the motorist was required to wait 10 minutes to ensure all livestock had been startled off the road.

Not thoroughly amused yet? The rules also called for a motorist to pull off the road and cover his vehicle so as not to spook an approaching team of horses. And if the horses still were startled? Said motorist then had to "quickly and completely disassemble his motorized vehicle and hide such under the nearest brush or shrubbery."

Ah, simpler times.

No. 2: No baths in the winter -- Clinton, Ind.

Like our last law, the long-forgotten prohibition against bathing in the winter in this Indiana town comes from a simpler -- and apparently less hygienic -- time.

In the mid-1800s, laws regulating when and how people could bathe were all the rage.

In Boston, people were prohibited from bathing on Sundays, and a doctor's note was needed on other days. Florida and Portland, Ore., once had laws requiring bathers to wear a bathing suit or other clothing. And Virginia law forbade bathtubs in the house, relegating them to the yard instead.

At that time most doctors thought that people became sick when they got wet or chilled. With some researchers calling for more frequent baths to wash away germs, doctors disagreed and pushed for the bathtub laws.

If you do bathe -- and find yourself in Pennsylvania while doing so -- just don't sing in the tub. That used to be illegal too.

No. 1: No ice cream cones in your back pocket -- Lexington, Ky.

You might think it strange today that lawmakers would seek to protect you from a melty mess in your jeans, but there once was a good reason for such laws.

Besides Lexington, this was also once the law of the land in states such as Alabama and Georgia. The reason? Very simple: To stop people from stealing horses.

As anyone who's ever seen a western can attest, horse thieves were just about the lowest no good, dirty, rotten scoundrels around. Some sunk even lower by using the promise of a pocket ice cream treat to lure horses away. If caught, they could always claim the horse simply followed them home.

You can lead a horse to ice cream, and not only make it eat it, but give it a brain freeze in the process. A cold and sticky butt isn't ideal today, but it was once apparently a small price to pay for a gently used horse.

Distributed by LAKANA. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.