By WILLIAM J. KOLE, Associated Press

BOSTON (AP) — New England craved a little comic relief in 2017, and the mirth gods came through with all manner of welcome weirdness.

A man dressed as — and named for — a clown ran for the Boston City Council.

An alien-like object with stainless steel legs rose from the sea near Taylor Swift’s beachfront mansion in Rhode Island.

A woman who runs a topless maid service in Maine was arrested for shoplifting underwear.

And that wasn’t the half of it.

Here’s your guide to some of the region’s goofiest stories from the past 12 months:
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A REEL FISH STORY

It was a fishy case from the start: the headless carcass of a 400-pound bluefin tuna found rotting in the woods of Gloucester. Authorities charged Harold Wentworth with catching the prized sport fish out of season and improperly disposing of it. Officials said the remains of the fish were so large they had to use a tow truck to haul it out of the brush. Environmental police said it was the first time they had to investigate a tuna in the woods. Wentworth pleaded not guilty.
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NOT A BIRD, NOT A PLANE …

More than currents and riptides were swirling after a mysterious object was removed from the water near Taylor Swift’s oceanfront mansion in Westerly, Rhode Island.

westerly object pic Strangest New England Stories Of 2017

The metal object under the water. (Image credit: Peter Brockmann via WPRI)

An excavator removed the circular metal object off East Beach, and nobody has been able to say with certainty what it is. The object has stainless steel legs and is capped with concrete.

beach object Strangest New England Stories Of 2017

The mysterious object on the sand (Image credit: WPRI)

Peter Brockmann, president of the East Beach Association, says he is still trying to solve the mystery.
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WHEN A COVERUP IS WELCOME

A woman who offers a topless maid service in Maine was arrested for shoplifting underwear. Police in Bangor say the suspect, whose name was not released, was taken into custody after she was caught stealing “naughty underthings” from a local shop. The woman is the owner-operator of a business called Topless Cleaning. Authorities say she was charged with felony theft and with violating terms of her release for a previous offense.
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THIS POLITICIAN TRULY IS A CLOWN

Pat Payaso’s last name means clown in Spanish, and he dresses like one, right down to the makeup, red nose, baggy pants and rainbow fright wig. That explains why he caused such a stir by running for a seat on the Boston City Council. At one point, his presence near a polling location so rattled passersby they called the police. In the end, Payaso wasn’t elected, but he did get 6,113 votes — 2 percent of all ballots cast in November’s election.
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OWL BET IT DIDN’T FEEL LUCKY

Wildlife officials said an owl was lucky to be alive after it flew into a truck, got stuck between the cab and the trailer, and had to endure a harrowing journey from Massachusetts to New Hampshire. Fish and Game conservation officers didn’t think the male barred owl would survive, but a rehabilitation center in Epping, New Hampshire, nursed him to health and released him back into the wild. His nickname? Trucker.
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A RUDE AWAKENING

A Connecticut boy got an unpleasant surprise when he awoke to find a skunk in his bed. Police in Hamden say the 13-year-old was awakened in his upstairs bedroom by the skunk, which had climbed into bed with him. They theorize that the reeking rodent got into the house by sneaking into a trash can that the homeowner brought inside. This story doesn’t have a happy ending: Startled by the boy, the skunk sprayed.
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THE SHIRTS OFF THEIR BACKS

Vermont’s capital city was surprised with a gift of soccer jerseys from its namesake in France — just for the L of it, you might say. The southern French city of Montpellier had ordered the shirts for its pro soccer team, but they were mistakenly printed with just one L. That’s how Montpelier, Vermont, is spelled, so the French generously decided to send the jerseys there. The two cities later exchanged “mercis” via Skype.
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Follow Bill Kole on Twitter at https://twitter.com/billkole . His work can be found at https://apnews.com/search/William%20J.%20Kole .

(© Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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