Florida knows how to hit the headlines.
If it isn’t Florida Man’s latest hijinks, it’s an alligator attack. And if it isn’t an alligator attack, it’s appalling public behavior.
Sometimes, it’s all of the above in the same story.
Yes, the Sunshine State has a proclivity for peculiarity, and Floridians have a playful affinity for our state’s reputation.
After all, no other state can claim to have its own brand of oddity. That’s something we can be a little bit proud of… and maybe a little bit embarrassed by… all at the same time. If nothing else, it’s a reminder that Florida has its fair share of dangers, and we all need to be careful.
So in that spirit, let’s take a look at some of the most viral stories from the Sunshine State so far this spring…
In Jacksonville, A Creepy Target Shopper Became a Target Himself
You might have seen it on the news. Candace Spivey of Jacksonville was shopping in a local Target when a man politely approached her with some questions. But Candace quickly realized that the questions were all too familiar.
He was buying a maxi dress for his wife, the man told Candace. He thought it might be too sheer. He needed to know if a woman would wear undergarments with it and, incidentally… was Ms. Spivey wearing undergarments at the time?
She’d heard it all before. A man had approached her with the exact same questions in a Jacksonville Publix two years earlier. In both encounters, the man was carrying a shopping basket full of razors.
This time, Candace was ready. She pulled out her phone’s video camera and captured the man in the middle of his sleazy encounter, ultimately chasing him out of the store as customers watched.
The man, who CNN identified as Jeffery Polizzi, fled the scene. Cops caught up with him and charged him with reckless driving. As it turns out, he’d been arrested on charges of video voyeurism in a retail dressing room back in 2009. Polizzi pleaded no contest at the time.
As for the Target episode, the questions themselves aren’t strictly illegal. Polizzi’s punishment, then, will be limited to the reckless driving charge. But the court of public opinion can sometimes be harsher than the court of law, and this time, he might have picked the wrong victim for a second time.
Florida Woman Tells Facebook “Breast Is Best,” But Don’t Judge
Creepy men carrying razors and dresses aren’t the only source of controversy for Florida’s Target stores. In another part of the state, a nosy mom’s quip caused a viral story all her own.
CBS Miami reports that Annie Ferguson Muscato, of Gainesville, was shopping for baby formula when another woman approached her and said, “breast is best.”
The implication, of course, is that Muscato was making a mistake as a mother by opting for formula instead of breastfeeding her baby.
Muscato doesn’t disagree with the science behind that thinking, but she says there’s more to the story than the nosy stranger realized — and Muscato took to social media to explain why. Soon after, her Facebook post had gone viral.
“Dear Stranger in Target,” she begins. “You didn’t need to tell me, ‘breast is best’ as I was buying a can of baby formula, because I already know…
“But, let me tell you what else I know. I know that my baby began screaming after she ate. Writhing in pain…
“And then finally, we tried the hypoallergenic dairy protein free formula you saw me buying today… And my baby started smiling… And I cried. Because I thought breast was best. I thought my body failed her…
“I know you think I must not care or I’m lazy… But, you are wrong…
“So, dear stranger, next time you see someone buying formula… Remind yourself that “fed is best” and smile because it means someone loves their baby enough to do what’s best for them.”
Muscato signed her open letter with love, from “Another Mom Doing Her Best.”
The internet, it seems, is overwhelmingly on Muscato’s side. To get a real sense of why, head over to Facebook and read the whole letter. It’s worth your time.
Businesses Donate a Wedding to Florida Homeless Couple
Here’s something even more uplifting. Evelyn Adams and David “Rocky” Barlett have been dating for over 22 years. They’ve been homeless for nearly three of those since Evelyn’s son was killed in a car crash, and they’ve been unable to afford Florida’s $93 marriage license.
That all changed when a Tampa police officer found them living in the woods and decided to change their lives. He started looking for businesses that would help to fund the fee for their marriage.
In the end, he earned much more than $93.
A big white limousine picked Evelyn and Rocky up from their wedding, which was fully funded by local business interests — the dress, the party, and yes, the license.
And when it was all over, the limo dropped Rocky and Evelyn off at their brand-new home.
They have their community’s support and love. Now, the two are looking to pay their good fortune forward. And the whole world is watching — it’s this spring’s most viral heart warmer.
More Viral Sunshine State Stories…
Never fear, Florida has more viral stories on the way. It always does. And whether stirring, stunning, or outrageous, we’ll keep you updated when the next story blows up. Check back soon.