That’s not Sandy’s seal

Feisty escaped the Lake Superior Zoo in Duluth on the night of Tuesday, June 19, 2012. (Photo by Ellie Burcar)

Looks like superstorm Sandy resulted in a loose seal wandering the streets of Manhattan — just like during Duluth’s June flood! Or not.

The famous photograph by Ellie Burcar of the escaped seal on Grand Avenue that went viral during our storm was resurrected for Tuesday’s storm, but re-identified as a “wide-eyed seal” in New York City. And, once again, Feisty’s famous mug made its way around the Internet.

The seal shot is one that appears on the Atlantic’s website in a myth-buster-style story, “Sorting the Real Sandy Photos from the Fakes.”

Feisty apparently has become the national storm mascot.

DTA bus drivers suit up for Halloween

Duluth city bus drivers will carry on an annual tradition today when they trade in their uniforms for Halloween costumes.

The Duluth Transit Authority reports it’s fine with a bit of fun, but it asks that drivers make sure their costumes are in good taste, and they don’t offend riders.

Oh, yeah, there’s this bit, too: “Drivers are restricted somewhat in what they can wear, so as not to interfere with the safe operation of the bus or the safety of passengers.”

No kidding. And don’t even think about trying to pay your fare with sweets.

Bentleyville needs you

The 128-foot-tall tree is in place, but Bentleyville still needs volunteers to help finish work on its annual tour of lights. The next volunteer night is from 5-8 p.m. Thursday at Bayfront Festival Park.

If you’ve felt guilty for glugging down its free hot chocolate or scarfing one too many free cookies, you’re welcome to come down and give the Bentleyville crew a hand.

The display opens Nov. 17.

Halloween happenings

Duluth Parks and Recreation has a pair of Halloween parties open to young, costumed celebrators looking for an indoor alternative to trick-or-treating.

Young children are invited to the Duluth Heights Community Center, 33 Mulberry St., from 9-11 a.m. Wednesday for a costume show, healthy treats and games. Donations for the Play Game program will be accepted.

For kids who have been in school all day, a party will be held at the Heritage Sports Center, 120 W. Michigan St., from 5-6 p.m. Wednesday for treats, games, face-painting and a costume parade through the “slightly haunted” locker-room halls. Free public skating follows from 6:30-8 p.m. — but there are no costumes allowed on ice because the danger of falling is scary enough.

Nerd-O-Ween tonight in downtown Duluth

If you prefer a Halloween with fewer half-dressed kittens and witches and more taped glasses and spaceman costumes, you’ll want to check out Nerd-O-Ween. Today’s edition of Nerd Nite will include the in-depth, spooky topics: “Scooby Doo: Where the (Heck) Have You Been?” “It’s Fun to be Scared: A History of Horror” and the not-so-scary topic: “Eastern Exports: Why Japan is No. 1 at No. 2,” plus the usual assortment of games and snort-laughs.

Nerd Nite is at 7:30 p.m. today at Teatro Zuccone, 222 E. Superior St. Tickets are $5. Wear a costume, nerds.

Don’t let fraud embarrass you

The only thing spookier than a kid in a costume at your door is a crooked paving contractor. Don’t be embarrassed if you think you were scammed by one of these clowns — report it to the St. Louis County Sheriff’s Office.

The Sheriff’s Office is investigating reports of an unlicensed paving contractor working in the Ely and Babbitt areas who offers driveway paving and repair at low prices. The contractor performs work with substandard materials and later presents the homeowner with a bill many times the original estimate.

The contractor’s practice has been to operate by verbal agreement and to offer a receipt after payment with little detail and a false name and phone number.

In some cases, the investigation has been hampered by delayed reporting because victims are embarrassed to admit that the contractor had taken advantage of them, the Sheriff’s Office said. The contractor may be targeting elderly people.

The Sheriff’s Office reminds people to require written estimates of contractors, licensing information and references, especially of contractors they are not familiar with.

Anyone who has been victimized by such practices or knows of someone who has been involved in the fraudulent practice is asked to call 911.

Duluth zoo polar bear recovering in St. Paul

Berlin, Duluth’s polar bear who is staying at St. Paul’s Como Zoo, is recovering from surgery earlier this month.

“It’s good,” Lake Superior Zoo’s director of operations Peter Pruett said of Berlin’s condition this week. “She’s recovering.”

Berlin underwent surgery Oct. 13 to repair damage from a necrotic mass — tissue that has been killed by disease or trauma.

The 22-year-old bear was moved to St. Paul after June’s flooding damaged her Polar Shores exhibit.


T-shirt time!

If you’re an elementary-school student with a knack for design, it’s not too late to enter a T-shirt-design contest sponsored by P.S. from Aeropostale, a chain of casual apparel for kids ages 4 to 12.

In the P.S. from Aeropostale “What Makes You Smile?” contest, students submit a T-shirt design based on what makes them smile. Entries are due Wednesday. Contestants’ families and friends can vote Nov. 1-15.

The top 100 designs with the most votes become finalists. Judges pick a grand-prize winner from each grade. The prizes include a $500 store gift card, $1,000 for the winner’s school, a celebratory school presentation, T-shirts for the winner’s classmates and 50 T-shirts displaying the winning design to hand out.

Winning designs will be announced in December. Enter at

Kids like ‘Witches’

The News Tribune doesn’t review children’s productions, but that didn’t stop Homecroft School third-graders from sending along a few thoughts about the Duluth Playhouse Children’s Theatre production of Roald Dahl’s “The Witches.”

The costumes scored big with the young theater crowd: “The grand high witch wore a really ugly mask. It was hard to not look at her. Her face looked like it was melting,” one student wrote.

The young critics also showed a bit of 1980s pop-culture cred: “The audience was surprised when the witches danced and liked the ‘Thriller’ scene.”

“The Witches” is the story of an evil witch who plans to turn children into mice and the young boy who, with the help of his grandmother, tries to stop her. It’s billed as quirky and slightly spooky.

The show runs at 1 and 4 p.m. today and 2 p.m. Sunday at the Duluth Playhouse.