A Small Colorado Town's Punny Signs Are Receiving National Attention

Courtesy of Vince Rozmiarek
Courtesy of Vince Rozmiarek

Indian Hills, Colorado—population 1280—has become an unlikely tourist attraction thanks to one resident’s penchant for puns.

As spotted by My Modern Met, the town’s community center changes its roadside sign two or three times a week, and the messages will make you laugh or cringe—or maybe a little of both. “Terrible summer for Humpty Dumpty but he had a great fall,” one sign read. “I was struck by a bottle of of Omega 3 pills. Luckily, my wounds were only super fish oil,” read another.

The mastermind behind these signs is Vince Rozmiarek, a volunteer at the community center and pun-maker extraordinaire. “I've been copied on lots of photos of people posing with the sign,” Rozmiarek tells Mental Floss. “It kind of put us on the map.”

Beyond puns, messages on the signs fit into a few different categories: general jokes, random musings (like “What happened to Old Zealand?”), support for local sports teams, and playful jabs at the local police. Rozmiarek said he’s been writing messages for five years now and has never repeated a sign. He does, however, use puns he finds online from time to time.

The first sign he put up was a rather convincing April Fools' prank. “We have a heavy police presence in the town of Morrison, which is next to Indian Hills, and they run a ton of speed traps,” Rozmiarek told My Modern Met. “The sign said ‘Indian Hills annexed by Morrison, slow down.’ Many people believed that prank, and the amount of attention it brought was really surprising.”

One of his proudest signs is a Denver Broncos-related pun that went viral following their 2015 Super Bowl game against the Carolina Panthers. The message, which referenced the last names of two Broncos players, read: “Breaking news! Large Panther eaten by giant Ware-Wolfe.”

"It is a challenge to come up with fresh ideas, but I try to keep it interesting,” he says. To see more signs like these, check out the photos below or head to the Indian Hills Community Sign Facebook page.

A police vehicle pulls up to a sign reading "Slow Down! Cops hide behind this sign."
Courtesy of Vince Rozmiarek

A sign reads "Police toilet stolen! Cops have nothing to go on."
Courtesy of Vince Rozmiarek

A sign reads "Drugs are not the answer, unless the question is Narcotics - 5 letters"
Courtesy of Vince Rozmiarek

A sign reads "My friend in Quebec is a heavy drinker. In fact he drank Canada Dry."
Courtesy of Vince Rozmiarek

A sign reads "The last thing I need is a burial plot."
Courtesy of Vince Rozmiarek

A sign reads "Puns about communism have no class."
Courtesy of Vince Rozmiarek

A sign reads "The man who invented Velcro has died. RIP."
Courtesy of Vince Rozmiarek

A sign reads "Research shows that 6 out of 7 dwarves aren't happy."
Courtesy of Vince Rozmiarek

[h/t My Modern Met]

Presidents Day vs. President's Day vs. Presidents' Day: Which One Is It?

iStock
iStock

Happy Presidents’ Day! Or is it President’s Day? Or Presidents Day? What you call the national holiday depends on where you are, who you’re honoring, and how you think we’re celebrating.

Saying "President’s Day" implies that the day belongs to a singular president, such as George Washington or Abraham Lincoln, whose birthdays are the basis for the holiday. On the other hand, referring to it as "Presidents’ Day" means that the day belongs to all of the presidents—that it’s their day collectively. Finally, calling the day "Presidents Day"—plural with no apostrophe—would indicate that we’re honoring all POTUSes past and present (yes, even Andrew Johnson), but that no one president actually owns the day.

You would think that in the 140 years since "Washington’s Birthday" was declared a holiday in 1879, someone would have officially declared a way to spell the day. But in fact, even the White House itself hasn’t chosen a single variation for its style guide. They spelled it “President’s Day” here and “Presidents’ Day” here.


Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

Maybe that indecision comes from the fact that Presidents Day isn’t even a federal holiday. The federal holiday is technically still called “Washington’s Birthday,” and states can choose to call it whatever they want. Some states, like Iowa, don’t officially acknowledge the day at all. And the location of the punctuation mark is a moot point when individual states choose to call it something else entirely, like “George Washington’s Birthday and Daisy Gatson Bates Day” in Arkansas, or “Birthdays of George Washington and Thomas Jefferson” in Alabama. (Alabama loves to split birthday celebrations, by the way; the third Monday in January celebrates both Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert E. Lee.)

You can look to official grammar sources to declare the right way, but even they don’t agree. The AP Stylebook prefers “Presidents Day,” while Chicago Style uses “Presidents’ Day.”

The bottom line: There’s no rhyme or reason to any of it. Go with what feels right. And even then, if you’re in one of those states that has chosen to spell it “President’s Day”—Washington, for example—and you use one of the grammar book stylings instead, you’re still technically wrong.

Have you got a Big Question you'd like us to answer? If so, let us know by emailing us at bigquestions@mentalfloss.com.

11 Words You Might Not Realize Come From “Love”

iStock.com/PeopleImages
iStock.com/PeopleImages

1. BELIEVE

In Old English, believe was geliefan, which traces back to the Germanic galaubjan, where laub is the root for “dear” (so “believe” is “to hold dear”). Laub goes back to the Proto-Indo-European root for “love,” leubh.

2. FURLOUGH

We got furlough from the Dutch verlof, which traces back to the same Germanic laub root as in believe. It is also related to the sense of leave meaning "allowance" or "permission" (“get leave,” “go on leave”). The “leave” in a furlough is given with pleasure, or approval, which is how it connects back to love.

3. FRIDAY

Old English Frigedæg was named for Frigg, the Germanic goddess of love (and counterpart to the Roman Venus). According to the OED, frīg was also a noun for “strong feminine” love.

4. VENOM

Venom comes from the Latin venenum, which shares a root with the love goddess Venus, and originally referred to a love potion.

5. AMATEUR

The root of amateur is Latin amare, “to love.” An amateur practices a craft simply because they love it.

6. CHARITY

The Latin caritas, which ended up as charity in English, was a different kind of love than amor, implying high esteem and piety, rather than romance and passion. It was used to translate the Ancient Greek agape, the word used in the New Testament to express godly love.

7. PHILOSOPHY

Greek had another word for love, philia, that—in contrast to agape and eros (sexual love)—meant brotherly or friendly love. It’s used in many classical compounds to signify general fondness or predilection for things. Philosophy is the love of sophos, wisdom.

8. PHILANTHROPY

This one means love of anthropos, humanity.

9. PHILADELPHIA

You might know it as the “city of brotherly love,” but you might not know that the tagline is right there in the name. It’s love for adelphos, brother.

10. PHILIP

The name Philip comes from the compound phil- + hippos, love of horses.

11. ACIDOPHILUS

Have you been taking acidophilus probiotic supplements for digestive health? It’s made from acid-loving bacteria, i.e., bacteria that easily take up an acid dye for viewing under the microscope.

This list originally ran in 2015.

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