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15 Wackiest Laws in American Small Towns

Laws have a fundamental role in society, binding a community and keeping its citizens safe and protected. However, not all laws have been created equally. While most laws serve both the state and its people, some are plain senseless. And, coincidence or not, many of these strange laws can be found in many of America’s small towns.

For instance, it’s illegal to park your car in front of a certain coffee chain; another law says that it’s illegal for a chicken to cross the road! Yes, you’re reading it right. And there are plenty more rules where that came from. Curious to find them out? Then read on to discover some of the wackiest laws passed in small towns in the United States. Prepare to be flabbergasted!

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  1. Frowning is illegal in Pocatello, Idaho

In the defense of Pocatello authorities, this law was first passed as a joke; unfortunately, no one thought to repel it and it is currently still in force. The law’s existence was first reported by a local reporter in the Idaho State Journal and then it gained nationwide recognition.

The town was even used by the American Bankers Association for a national campaign, prompting the town to be known as U.S. Smile Capital. Those breaking the frowning law would undergo a fake arrest.

  1. Showy bike riding is prohibited in Galesburg, Illinois

Riding a bike is a fun activity. Or so it should be. But in Galesburg, Illinois, bike riding has very strict rules. Bikers have to use both their hands when riding; no showy or ostentatious moves that might jeopardize their safety and the one of other people. In addition, both feet have to be kept on the pedals, at all times during the ride. Not complying will bring offenders younger than 16 fines of 1 up to 3 dollars. If the fine is not paid in the first 72 hours, it can go as high as $30 to $100.

  1. Hitting a vending machine is banned in Derby, Kansas

If you live in Derby, you need to have serious self-control, especially when near a vending machine. Even if you’ve had the worst of days, don’t even think about hitting a vending machine unless you are ready for the consequences. These include up to a year in the county jail, as this act is considered a Class A violation.

Unless you want to take up residency in jail, you’d better try some relation techniques.

  1. Painting birds is illegal in Harper Woods, Michigan

It should go without saying that causing any type of harm to animals should be illegal. In Harper Woods, painting birds for commercial purposes is prohibited by law. Apparently, someone tried to dye some birds and sell them for something else than their breed, so the law was passed and remains in the books to this day.

Does Polly want a cracker? Maybe, if Polly were truly a parrot.

  1. Giving beer to elephants is illegal in Natchez, Mississippi

Hmm, we know that elephants love water, but beer…that’s a new one. This law has a funny story behind it. Apparently, during an elephant show in the small town, someone gave beer to the poor animal right before the show. The law does have a glitch, however. It says that beer cannot be offered to elephants on the street. Does this mean it is completely legal to do it in your backyard? And who keeps an elephant in their backyard in the first place?

Strange would be an understatement for this whole situation.

  1. Parking in front of Dunkin’ is banned in South Berwick, Maine

Not that there’s much parking space in front of the popular store; but since the law was passed, it seems that citizens of South Berwick have still tried to find one. Another law involving Dunkin states that it’s illegal to turn left when exiting Dunkin’s parking lot. The reason behind this rule is only known by residents. The rest of us can only stop and wonder.

Photo by Valeri Vatel on Shutterstock
  1. Riding ugly horses is illegal in Wilbur, Washington

Neigh way! If you think your horse is beautiful, you’d better make sure that the rest of the population in Wilbur, Washington is on the same page with you. Beauty may be subjective, but if people think your horse is ugly, you could be paying for more than horseshoes. The fine for riding an ugly horse, whatever this means, is around 300 dollars.

As an old saying goes, to ride on a horse is like flying with no wings. In this case, with no money, if your horse is not considered good-looking enough.

  1. Allowing chickens to cross the road is prohibited in Quitman, Georgia

Why did the chicken cross the road? It didn’t. At least, not in Quitman, Georgia where chickens crossing an open road is considered illegal. Luckily for the chickens, the fine is not applicable in their case; on the other hand, their owner is very much guilty of breaking the law and will be punished accordingly. Best part? This is not a joke.

You might also like: 16 Things People in Small Towns Consider Annoying

  1. Ice skating is banned in June and August in Moline, Illinois

Ice skating might be fun and all, but it cannot be done whenever you feel like it. Not in Moline, Illinois anyway. According to the town’s rules, skating on the Riverside Pond is forbidden and can be punished with fines or jail time.

Why was such a law necessary given the temperatures that make this sport impossible in June and August? We don’t know, but there must be a reasonable explanation behind it.

  1. Tailgating is illegal after midnight in Fenwick Island, Delaware

If you happen to be on the streets of Fenwick Island, Delaware between midnight and 6 a.m., expect someone to call the cops on you. If you’re tailgating or even sitting still in a parked car, just know you’re doing something illegal.

With a population of just 437 people, where everyone knows everyone, don’t be the town’s black sheep and just stay indoors between the aforementioned intervals.

Photo by Foodio on Shutterstock
  1. Using a fork to eat fried chicken is prohibited in Gainesville County, Georgia

What would fried chicken be if people were eating it with forks? Come on, where are your manners? Surprisingly, this law is still in the books and can even get you arrested if you break it. As a matter of fact, a 91-year-old resident of Gainesville was taken to city jail, on her birthday, for using a fork when eating fried chicken. She was pardoned, but we cannot help wondering who turned her in.

  1. Whistling loudly is illegal in Waterbury, Connecticut

You can forget about singing happily in the rain or whistling a merry tune in Waterbury, Connecticut. If you’re doing it loud enough to disturb other people, you can receive a citation from the police. More than that, you will be asked to pay a fine, depending on the city’s budget requirements that year.

Unless you want to break the law, keep your singing and whistling indoors!

  1. Dancing too close to another person is forbidden in Monroe, Utah

Not sure if someone will start measuring the distance between dancing partners, but dancing too close to one another is not allowed. Dancing during the night is basically banned.

The dancing requirement is that sunlight should be visible between partners so that the dancing can be considered legal. No sunlight, no decency.

  1. Dancing with a hat on is banned in Fargo, North Dakota

Speaking of dancing, it’s not only the distance between partners that matters. In Fargo, North Dakota, your attire while in the act of dancing is also important. And wearing a hat is, by all means, forbidden. This strange law dates way back but unfortunately for Fargo residents, it hasn’t been repelled yet.

  1. Eating in a burning building is forbidden in Chicago, Illinois

Who in their right mind would want to eat when the building they’re in is burning? Well, it seems that some people in Chicago considered it was more important to finish their juicy steak than worrying about becoming a crispy steak themselves. Thus, this law which makes people leave a burning building instead of eating, was necessary.

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