Monday, June 28, 2004

Breaking News

REDLANDS(Reuters) - Several attacks by a pack of roaming feral garden gnomes have been reported over the past several weeks, prompting officials to issue a warning for gardeners in the city to be on their guard.

"I was outside, pruning back my prized boganvilla, when I noticed about half a dozen pointed hats poking out of the neighbors ivy. They seemed to follow me as I walked about the yard. Then, they suddenly jumped out & started poking me about the shins with their hats!" said South Side resident Henrietta Berg, displaying the multiple bruises on her lower legs.

"I came out one morning to get the paper & couldn't believe what I saw," said Irv Gustafson. "The legs on my pink flamingoes had been twisted into knots & there were dents & red scuff marks all over my deer & fawn statues. It was so horrible!"

Local officials have so far been unable to catch any of the gnomes. "I had seen what I thought was a gnome while on patrol around Brookside Park last Thursday," said Officer James Clark. "It was only upon closer inspection that I found that it was a soccer cone."

The city has called upon Dr. John Dietrich, Professor of Medieval Folklore at San Bernardino Valley College & foremost expert on garden gnomes. "These occurrences happen from time to time. People see a garden gnome in the Wal-Mart Garden Center & decide to take it home or give them as gifts, without thinking about the responsibility involved in their care & maintenance," says Dietrich. "The paint starts chipping & the gnomes get muddy & people just turn them loose thinking that they can fend for themselves, which is not true. Besides, they make tacky gifts."

When asked about the dangers of feral garden gnomes, Dr. Dietrich replied, "Well, as they have no mouths, so they can't bite. And since their bodies are made of plaster or, in some cases, resin plastic, they can't scratch you with their hands. And you have a good chance of outrunning them since their legs can't move. In fact, the only real danger is from them poking someone with their pointed hats. Or from somebody tripping over one."

Officials have released the following guidelines should anyone encounter a feral garden gnome:

-If you do see a garden gnome, assume that it is wild & steer clear of it. A brisk walking pace is oftentimes fast enough to outrun them.

- Do not invite gnomes around your home by leaving food out for them. You'll just be inviting trouble & besides, they don't have mouths & can't eat.

- If you come across a strange gnome, contact Vector Control or your local plant nursery.

They are described as being around eighteen inches in height, including the pointed hat, with a white beard, large nose & usually dressed in a jacket & small pants.