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Former Philly Congressman Bill Gray Dies in London


Former member of the U.S. House of Representatives and Philadelphia minister William Herbert Gray III is dead, according to a family spokesperson.

The spokesperson said Gray was attending the Wimbledon Tennis Championships in London on Monday when he suddenly died. He was 71 years old. The spokesman said he had not been ill and that it appears he died from natural causes.

Born in Baton Rouge, La., Gray graduated from Simon Gratz High School in Philadelphia back in 1959. In 1972, he became the senior minister at Bright Hope Baptist Church, also in Philly.

Church leaders from Bright Hope Baptist learned of Gray's death during an emergency meeting.

"We're talking about someone who not only became majority whip but was the Barack Obama of his day." said Reverand Kevin Johnson of Bright Hope Baptist.

"It's heartwrenching," said Brenda Willingham, who attends the church. "It hurts so bad. He's going to be truly missed by his congregation."

In 1978, Gray was elected as a Democrat to represent Philadelphia in the House of Representatives. He represented Pennsylvania’s 2nd congressional district until he resigned in 1991.

Gray was also the first African-American to chair the House Budget Committee and the first to serve as the Majority Whip.

"He was a big man doing a big job," former Philadelphia Mayor Wilson Goode said. "He knew how to get stuff done."

Goode, who was Philly's first African American Mayor, says Gray paved the way for him and other African Americans in politics.

"He was a pathfinder," Goode said. "He proved that an African American can run without party support."

While chairman of the Committee on Budget, Gray introduced H.R. 1460, an influential anti-apartheid bill.

From 1991 to 2004, Gray served as president of the United Negro College Fund.

Gray leaves behind a wife and three sons. The family spokesperson says funeral services will soon be announced.

Mayor Michael Nutter ordered that all city flags at city buildings and facilities will be at half-staff on Tuesday, in honor of Gray.

“I am truly stunned, saddened and hurt by the loss of this great man who was so influential in my own growth as a public servant as well as dozens of other Philadelphians, particularly in the African American community," Nutter said. "Bill Gray was also a unifying force bringing together a multi-racial coalition to work in the best interests of all Philadelphians. Bill’s passing is a dramatic and significant loss for Philadelphia, the Commonwealth and the nation he served with honor and distinction."

Philadelphia Council President Darrell Clarke called Gray "one of the most significant figures in Philadelphia politics" in a released statement.

“From advocating for Philadelphia’s fair share of federal dollars to fighting against the injustice of apartheid in South Africa, Congressman Gray’s mark cannot be erased," Clarke said. "He helped make the renovation of 30th Street Station possible, and the sight of that magnificent structure should give us all reason to be thankful for his service."

Photo Credit: NBC10.com

Judge OKs Yoga in Schools, Denies Religious Component


A San Diego judge has ruled in favor of yoga classes in public elementary schools, rejecting an argument from some parents that the practice was an attempt at religious mind control.

Judge John S. Meyer spoke from the bench for nearly two hours Monday as he presented his ruling on the yoga program being taught to elementary school children in the Encinitas Unified School District.

At issue: Are yoga poses religious in nature, and can schools offer yoga instruction as part of its physical education program without promoting the religion or spirituality behind the practice?

Meyer heard testimony in May regarding Ashtanga yoga and a curriculum established within EUSD where students practice yoga as P.E.

The district established its yoga program with a $500,000 grant from the K.P. Jois Foundation.

EUSD administrators hoped yoga would help the elementary school students focus on studies, keep them calm and possibly even curb bullying.

However, some parents heard the chanting, saw the Sanskrit and objected.

After complaining to the district, opponents sued claiming the classes are being used to indoctrinate children and "spread the gospel" of Ashtanga yoga. The plaintiffs wanted yoga classes suspended immediately.

Attorney Dean Broyles argued Ashtanga yoga is inherently religious and that teaching the poses is therefore a violation of the separation of church and state.

In his ruling Monday, Superior Court Judge Meyer said P.E. has traditionally involved physical activity and breath control — whether ithrough jumping jacks, dodgeball, kickball or running — as well as character teachings like perseverance, determination and sportsmanship.

"This physical education, health and wellness class is no different except the physical aspect kickball or something else is EUSD yoga which involves a particular stretching and breathing routine different from traditional physical education."

Judge Meyer called the influence of the foundation over the EUSD curriculum "troublesome" but ruled that the district was not teaching the children any religious component during the yoga instruction.

Broyles said the ruling was confusing. “For the judge to say yoga is religious… but then to say this EUSD yoga is not religious, I’m not sure how he arrives at that point,” he said.

The idea the yoga program was funded by the Jois Foundation as a mind-control technique is “preposterous,” according to the foundation's Executive Director Eugene Ruffin. Watch Video: Jois Foundation Reaction to Verdict

The grant was for the district to create a health and wellness curriculum and yoga is a cost-effective way to attain happy, healthy kids Ruffin said.

“It would be a shame if these children could not have the same kinds of choice as it relates to these century-old techniques as you and I have as adults," he said. “It would be pitiful.”

Superintendent Timothy Baird, Ed.D., said formal studies are being conducted about the results of the program.

He did offer results from one school that taught yoga to students before the program was expanded to all nine of the district's schools. Teachers reported an increase in API for the school as well as better schoolyard behavior according to Baird.  

The plaintiffs' attorney cited studies that shows prayer in school helps calm students down and focuses them to perform better.

"Just because a religious practice is beneficial doesn't mean it should be the standard that's taught in schools," Broyles said. Watch Video: Plaintiff's Attorney Reacts to Verdict

The Encinitas School District will move forward to put the program in place for next year.

Baird said he would tell the plaintiffs, “Come see a class, come observe what your students are doing. If you do, I think you will agree with us that this is just exercise.”

Photo Credit: Getty Images

Vet Honored for WWII Heroics


An American soldier who fought in WWII and some of the prisoners he helped liberate from a Nazi concentration camp were reunited Monday when the veteran was honored for his service.

Ed Royce Sr., 91, was 20 when his Army unit freed nearly 68,000 prisoners from Germany’s Dachau concentration camp in April 1945.

On Monday, Royce received the Distinguished Service Award from the Simon Wiesenthal Center at the Museum of Tolerance for his part in that defining moment.

“I remember it like it was yesterday,” Royce said.

So do Morris Price and Albert Rosa, who were both imprisoned, malnourished, tortured and marked at when the first Americans walked through the gates of the notorious concentration camp.

“I used to pick up the people from the gas chamber and take them to the crematorium,” Rosa said.

The brutality of what he was forced to do is fixed in his mind. Rosa is the sole survivor of his Greek family of 70.

“I saw (my) sister beat to death because I was talking to her behind the fence, and I saw my brother hanged,” Rosa said.

Royce’s son, the California congressman of the same name, values the meaning of that event six decades ago.

“It’s also a reminder, as my father says, that when someone is talking about exterminating a race, when someone is trying to incite people in order to exterminate a race of people, there's a very clear precedent,” he said.

When asked what the meaning of freedom is, the older Royce and the men he liberated said it was about educating younger generations and continuing to fight hatred.

“It also means you have to be responsible and know what's going on and draw the right conclusions,” Royce Sr. added.

More Southern California Stories:


Photo Credit: facebook.com/simonwiesenthalcenter

Tornado Touchdown Confirmed in NJ


A tornado touched down in New Jersey Monday, the National Weather Service has confirmed, creating a path of destruction that took down trees and crushed homes and cars in far western Union County.

The National Weather Service said the tornado touched down at 9:17 p.m. in Berkeley Heights near the Passaic River, just west of Garfield Street, moved through New Providence and ultimately lifted at 9:25 p.m. in Summit, near Evergreen Avenue.

At it widest point, the EF-0 tornado measured 50 yards wide and traveled about 4.8 miles, according to meteorologists. While relatively small, it was devastating, carrying winds of up to 85 miles per hour. 

One resident in Summit had just stepped into his kitchen to make breakfast when a tree came crashing through his newly built great room. 

"I have never seen wind like that, the trees around, shaking like that," said Girgis Shehata. "It's a miracle to me that I was in the kitchen."

Wayne Bergman of Berkeley Heights recalled the moment the skies got "pitch black" before a tree topped over into his backyard. 

"My wife says, 'It's raining sideways,'" he said.

"All of a sudden, you heard this big bang.  And that's when the tree came down and the fence exploded." 

A wooden fence, a metal fence and a vinyl fence that had been in his backyard for 20 years were each knocked down.

The National Weather Service said there was extensive tree damage along the tornado path, with the greatest damage occurring at the sewage treatment plant near Snyder Avenue in Berkeley Heights. 

No injuries have been reported. 

A tornado was also confirmed in Connecticut, in the area of Windsor Locks and East Windsor in Hartford County. It brought down power lines, scattered tobacco netting, peeled the siding off of homes and yanked a sports indoor dome out of the ground during summer camp there, NBC Connecticut reported.

NJ Transit service on the Morris & Essex lines was suspended for part of the morning from Dover to Summit in both directions because of downed trees and other weather-related conditions. It was later restored, with delays.

Storms also tossed trees and dumped heavy rains on other parts of the tri-state Monday.

Police in Yonkers, N.Y., said an estimated 50 trees were down on Riverdale Avenue, and numerous trees hit power lines in the Nodine Hill area. Con Edison crews were on scene to restore power to several hundred customers who lost it.

"The trees started falling ... it was terrible," said Garnet Boyd. "You couldn't see anything."

High winds tore off the roof of an apartment building on Willow Street, then flung it across the street where it knocked out wires, an air conditioning unit and windows before crashing into the upper floor of a building on the other side.

"The wires came down, so it was like flames going off. We saw wires on the floor, the ceiling was halfway craking," said Jamileth Hernandez, who lived in the exposed building. The family was ordered to stay inside until rescue crews managed to clear what was left of the roof. 

The National Weather Service said cars were stranded in floodwaters in some areas of Westchester County. The agency is investigating whether it was a microburst that inflicted the damage in the area.

--Brian Thompson, Andrew Siff, Marc Santia and Pei-Sze Cheng contributed to this story.

Arrest Made in Seymour Home Invasion


Seymour Police have arrested a man they believe to be responsible for a home invasion over the weekend.

On Saturday, June 29 around 5:30 a.m., police received a call about an assault on North St. Upon arrival officers discovered that a home invasion had occurred.

The male suspect entered the first floor apartment window and confronted a male and female inside who were asleep.

The suspect assaulted the male and physically and sexually assaulted the female. The suspect then fled the scene prior to police arriving.

The suspect, Wilian Guzman, 31 of Seymour, was apprehended at his job in Trumbull.

Guzman has been charged with home invasion, sexual assault 1st degree, burglary 1st degree, unlawful restraint 2nd degree, strangulation 3rd degree and two counts of assault 2nd degree.

He was arraigned at Derby Superior Court on July 1 and was held on a $500,000 bond.

Police say that this is an isolated incident and the suspect knew one of the victims. The victims received minor injuries.

Quick-Thinking Counselors Rush Campers to Safety


Some quick-thinking camp counselors moved campers at Sports World in East Windsor to safety just seconds before a possible tornado swept in and tore away the dome.

About 30 campers ages 5 to 12 and five counselors were playing soccer on Monday when counselors received a weather alert on their phones informing them of a tornado warning.

Counselor Kyle Noonan said he and the other adults hurried the campers inside and under tables. It was just in time.

“Maybe two seconds after they got through the door, I looked back and heard a loud boom... and saw the top of the dome going flying into the air,” Noonan said.

Dillon Merando, a camper, was on the far side of this field just a few minutes earlier. He said the experience was "pretty scary."

“Everything started shaking and the wind picked up, and it was pouring, so that's when I knew something was wrong,” Merando said.

Dillon's father, Russell Mattesen of Windsor Locks, knew something was wrong. He left work and raced to Sports World.

“By the time I got here, it was already down,” Mattesen said. He credits the counselors with quick thinking and saving lives.

"Luckily, everybody's safe and sound," Noonan said.

The Sports World turf is littered with heavy tarp, lighting equipment and cables, all that's left of the iconic white dome that went flying across I-91.

Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut

Conn. Tornado Causes Heavy Damage


 A tornado tore through the area of Windsor Locks and East Windsor Monday afternoon, bringing down trees and power lines, scattering tobacco netting, pulling the Sports World dome out of the ground and removing siding from houses.

The EF1-category twister could have reached a maximum wind speed of 86 mph. According to the National Weather Service, the tornado was up to 200 yards wide and traveled 2.5 miles between 1:30 and 1:45 p.m.

Damage was concentrated in the area of East Windsor and Windsor Locks.

East Windsor

Multiple lanes of traffic on I-91 southbound were closed near exits 44 and 45 in East Windsor after debris from the Sports World dome on Main Street blew onto the highway, authorities said.

One viewer said he was driving home from work when he saw the dome fly across the interstate.

Camp was underway at Sports World with the tornado struck. Counselors received tornado warnings on their phones and moved the campers to safety just moments before the storm hit and swept away the dome, eyewitnesses said.

Also in East Windsor, a tractor-trailer rolled over in the Walmart parking lot on Prospect Hill Road. Police worked to free the driver, who was still inside when the truck toppled.

Windsor Locks

In Windsor Locks, two transformers went down and multiple trees fell, according to First Selectman Steven Wawruck. Damaged tobacco netting left a trail of debris throughout the area.

"I have a tree that's around my boat right now," said Windsor Locks resident Peter Devine.

The four-way intersection of Reed Avenue and Sadler Street flooded Monday afternoon, and the area of South Center Street was closed indefinitely due to heavy storm damage.

Police and fire officials were standing guard to keep the area off limits. Electricity has been shut off in some sections until cleanup efforts are complete.

Strong winds tore metal roofing off a vacant warehouse building on Hayden Station Road. The roofing was flung into a back parking lot and nearby woods.

Connecticut Light & Power reported 2,414 outages statewide, 806 of which were concentrated in Windsor Locks.

The utility company is asking people to stay away from tobacco netting whipped around by the storms and draped across power lines, which can be very dangerous.

Gov. Dannel Malloy and state emergency response officials were continuing to monitor the situation Monday afternoon.

Malloy said he has spoken via telephone with Wawruck and East Windsor First Selectman Denise Menard to discuss resource coordination and recovery.

Fairfield County

Earlier on Monday, heavy storms prompted a tornado warning for lower into central Fairfield County.

That storm flooded streets and downed power lines in Ridgefield, according to emergency officials. It swept through lower Connecticut from Greenwich to Redding, where CL&P reported scattered outages are affecting nearly 650 homes, including around 350 in Wilton.

Flash flood watches remain in effect for Fairfield, Hartford and Litchfield counties through Tuesday morning.

Fortunately, no storm-related injuries have been reported.

If you see severe weather, send your photos to photos@nbcconnecticut.com.

Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut

Tornado Scatters Tobacco Cloth in Windsor Locks


On Monday afternoon, an EF-1 tornado started in the southwestern part of Windsor Locks and hopped the river, breaking trees, bringing down wires and blanketing town with tobacco cloth from a nearby farm.

The tornado on Monday touched down around 1:30 p.m., according to the National Weather Service, and brought winds of around 86 miles per hour,

It caused damage, but apparently no injuries. 

Peter Capp, of Windsor Locks, witnessed the storm.

“I saw the funnel crowd over the top of the trees here and I then yelled to my wife, ‘We got to get in the basement,’” Capp said.

By the time he reached the basement steps, the tornado had passed, but what it left behind is devastating.

“I came out and I went, ‘Oh my God, it hit my truck’, then saw the pine tree in the front,” he said. You know, that’s a 30-40 foot tree that went over. If that had fallen in the other, opposite direction, it would have been on the house.”

The tornado started not far from the Capps’ home, near Raymond and Alicia roads, hitting everything in its path and draping anything left standing in acres of white tobacco cloth from a nearby farm.

The storm continued toward Preston Street, directly toward the home of Donald Warner, where downed trees smother his home.

“I heard cracks and I looked out that side first and saw that tree had come down and then, when I walked around the front, I started looking out the front and all trees were down, all around the house – everywhere,” Warner said.

Dan Rozman, of Windsor Locks, said what lasted a moment will live on for a lifetime.

”It was less than a minute. Just boom. Just a wall of air going by the window -- trees going down left and right. Me starting to back off from the window and thinking, ‘I better start running down to the basement,’ and then it was just over,” Rozman said.

However, First Selectman Steve Wawruck said this storm was nothing compared to the one that came through on October 3, 1979.

“Not close. Not close at all. The entire corridor, at that time there was an air museum up there -- 30 airplanes were tossed about, there were tractor trailer trucks," he said. "That was more significant.” "

Three people were killed in the 1979 storm and nearly 500 were injured.


Photo Credit: Submitted by Lynn Dempsey

Officer Opens Fire After Dog Jumps From Car Window


An officer shot and killed a Southern California man's dog after it jumped from an open car window and lunged at officers who were taking the Rottweiler's owner into custody on suspicion of interfering with a SWAT stand-off.

Police arrested Leon Rosby, 52, near the scene of the SWAT stand-off in Hawthorne, about 15 miles southwest of downtown Los Angeles. Rosby was walking his Rottweiler, Max, and recording the stand-off with armed robbers on his cell phone camera.

"I never meant my dog to be killed and shot like that," Rosby said Tuesday. "He wasn't just shot. He was executed."

A statement from the Hawthorne Police Department detailed his alleged interference: "This interference included loud, distracting music (from the individual's vehicle), and his intentional walking within close proximity to armed officers, while holding an 80-pound Rottweiler on a long leash-line," the statement said.

The video, posted on YouTube (Warning: Disturbing Content), showed Rosby walking his dog along a sidewalk and recording officers on his cell phone. Another man who was also apparently recording the police incident was standing just a few feet away from Rosby, but he was not approached by officers.

Officers stared at Rosby for several seconds and began walking toward him. Rosby placed his dog into his car and, as officers approached, turned around and put his hands behind his back.

Rosby can be heard saying something about civil rights.

"They had asked me why am I there?" Rosby later told NBC4. "And I said I was filming them so that no one's civil rights were being violated."

The officers handcuffed him and the dog began barking out of one of the car's open windows. The dog jumped out and barked at the officers.

One of the officers reached toward the dog several times, apparently trying to grab its leash. The dog lunged at him and he fired four shots at the dog.

The Hawthorne Police Department statement continued, "Fearing that the attacking Rottweiler would imminently bite the officer(s), one officer fired his duty weapon several times, striking and killing the dog."

The dog fell to the ground, yelping and writhing in the street. The animal's owner, still handcuffed, cried out and his legs buckled.

The video is available on YouTube here. Warning: As previously described, it contains extremely disturbing content.

Michael Gulden, Rosby's attorney, said his client was targeted because he had a pending lawsuit against the Hawthorne Police Department. Rosby alleged that police beat him without cause.

"We'll be amending the complaint to include another excessive force action as well," Gulden said.

More Southern California Stories:


Mystic Jewelry Store Owner Charged With Larceny


State police have charged a 40-year-old Mystic jewelry store owner with larceny after investigating burglaries in the Lyme area.

Matthew Hopkins, of Westerly, Rhode Island, owns G&S Jewelry in Mystic, according to state police.
While investigating a series of burglaries, police found several stolen items, including jewelry, precious metals, precious stones and antiques worth $197,045 that were for sale or stored in the store, according to state police.

The Day of New London reports that Hopkins is accused of buying stolen items from brothers,  Justin, who are accused of committing burglaries. 

Police said Hopkins had sold additional stolen precious metals to an area refinery, where they were smelted for metal content.

Hopkins  was charged with larceny in the first degree and held in lieu of a $250,000 court-set bond. He will be arraigned in New London Superior Court on July 2.

Photo Credit: Getty Images

2 MDC Sites Reopen After Storm


There is some good news for those who hope to spend some time on or in the water over the holiday weekend. Two MDC water recreation sites in the state have reopened after being shut down because of yesterday’s severe weather.

The Lake McDonough Recreation Area in Barkhamsted and the boat launch at Goodwin Dam-West Branch Reservoir in Hartland are back open today.

They were closed when a storm system tore through the northern part of the state yesterday, producing a tornado in the Windsor area.

More severe storms are possible this afternoon and flash flood watches are in effect.

You can check the track of storms through our interactive radar.

Download our new weather app here.

Photo Credit: MDC

Newtown Official: Town Will Decline New Special Events


The chief executive of Newtown, Connecticut, is asking organizations and individuals to refrain from holding any more special events in the town as it attempts to heal from December's shooting at the Sandy Hook Elementary school.

Numerous concerts, sports clinics and celebrity visits have been held for the children and families in the months following the shooting that took the lives of 20 children and six educators.

First Selectwoman Pat Llodra, in blog post on the website onenewtown.org, says Newtown will decline any further special events not already on the schedule or being planned for July and August.

She said the community is thankful for the outpouring of support, but she believes the time is coming for the town to "move into a quiet period of rest, recuperation, and healing."   

“We are very appreciative of the efforts put forth by so many to make special activities available to our community members. We ask that organizations and individuals please accept our sincerest of thanks. We are hopeful that everyone understands the need for us to move into a quieter period,” Llodra wrote. 

Caught on Video: Rider Berates Senior on Bus


An irate commuter terrorized a fellow Metro bus passenger in a caught-on-video confrontation, apparently sparked because the senior citizen sat on him while trying to squeeze into the seat next to him.

It went down about 8 p.m. June 26 on a Metro 720 Rapid Bus, according to rider Erica Rodriguez, who posted the video -- titled "Elderly Man Assaulted on the 720 Rapid Bus" -- to her YouTube channel. The exact ages of the men seen in the video were not available.

An attorney who works in Downtown Los Angeles, Rodriguez was taking the bus home Wednesday night -- as she normally does -- when the fight started.

"It was definitely scary because you hear about incidents on the bus where people pull out guns, so I was, like, oh god, I hope this doesn't get worse," Rodriguez said.

She said the victim was sitting in a front seat, typically reserved for older and handicapped commuters. While the bus was moving, the victim switched seats and appeared to fall into a fellow rider while doing so.

Both men are seated at the start of the video, but then one of them abruptly jumps up.

Victim: “Don’t threaten me.”

Commuter: “I’m not threatening you, buddy. You just assaulted me.”

Victim: “I didn’t…”

Commuter, lunging toward man: “Yes, you did, you sat on me!”

At least twice, the victim can be heard asking someone to call the police, to which the assaulter replies, “I am the police!”

Hurling obscenities and using a derogatory term for a gay man, the commuter berates the older passenger for nearly 3 minutes.

Of the six riders sitting around the pair, one tries to intervene, telling the commuter to calm down. A passenger can be heard laughing in the background.

The bus driver chimes in twice over the intercom, at one point asking the men, "Do we have to call the police? Just let me know."

"The bus driver wasn't doing anything, so I didn't feel protected," Rodriguez said.

A spokesman for Metro said the driver alerted bus opertions, which is supposed to dispatch Los Angeles County Sheriff's deputies to the scene.

"The bus driver did what he was supposed to do," Dave Sotero said.

Deputies were called off after the driver stopped at Wilshire Boulevard and Vermont Avenue and both men appeared to have left the bus, said Lt. Karl Schow, with Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department Transit Services Bureau.

Rodriguez said most of the passengers, including the angry commuter, boarded another 720 Rapid Bus that happened to pull up behind the first bus.

Coincidentally, the fight happened the same day Metro unveiled its new security app -- which lets commuters document onboard problems and report them directly to Metro.

"Unfortunately these sorts of events happen on the system," Sotero said. "... We’re hoping that the public can help us to identify the perpetrator involved."

Schow said investigators want to speak with the victim. Because the older passenger left the bus, a police report was never filed.

"I really want to find him," Schow said. "... That's unacceptable."

Anyone who recognizes the men involved is asked to call the deputies at 323-563-5000.

Photo credit: biofriendly via Flickr

Warning: The video contains obscene language. To watch, click here.

Photo Credit: littleerica23 via YouTube

Teen Charged With Harassment in South Windsor


A 19-year-old Suffield woman accused of sending harassing text messages to a South Windsor youth has been charged with harassment.

On Tuesday, Shannon Griffin was charged with harassment in the second degree in South Windsor and released on a $1,000 non-surety bond. 

Police said the charge stems from a harassment complaint filed in May 2013.

Griffin is scheduled to appear at Manchester Superior Court on July 11.

Photo Credit: South Windsor police

Teacher Who Wears Same Outfit in 40 Yearbook Photos Retires


It’s like Groundhog Day for school photos.

Dallas teacher Dale Irby is retiring this year, and he’s taking with him the brown sweater vest and pointy-collared polyester shirt he has worn for the last 40 years of yearbook photos.

What originally started as an accident turned into an annual joke between Irby and his wife Cathy.

The physical education teacher, whose wardrobe consisted mostly of athletic wear, was instructed to “wear something nice” on picture day, he said.

He purchased the ensemble in 1973 from a local mall for the occasion but accidentally wore it again for a second year on school picture day.

“I was so embarrassed when I got the school pictures back that second year and realized I had worn the very same thing as the first year,” the 63-year-old told The Dallas Morning News.

Wife Cathy dared him to wear it for a third year. After five years of the same outfit, Irby decided to make it into an annual tradition.

The outfit held up, but Irby said he now had to “suck it in a little” to get the shirt to button up.

Check out this slideshow of Dale Irby through the years:

America's Top Fourth of July Celebrations


The Fourth of July is upon us and there is no shortage of festivities to celebrate the country’s independence.

For those who are traveling to party it up in a big city, firework shows, barbecues, parades and music events are planned in Chicago, Los Angeles, Dallas-Fort Worth and Miami.

Here are other big July 4 events around the country:

New York City

Every summer, Macy’s lights up the Manhattan skyline with over 40,000 fireworks on July 4. This year’s show is directed by Usher and will feature an all-star line-up including Mariah Carey and Taylor Swift. It airs on NBC at 8 pm. EDT. Check out the full celebrity guest list here.

For revelers who prefer to celebrate far from the fireworks show on the Hudson River, NBC New York has rounded up some of the best July 4th events New York City has to offer.

And finally, what better way to celebrate Independence Day than to pay a visit Lady Liberty herself? The Statue of Liberty is finally ready to receive visitors on July 4 after months of cleanup and damage repair from Hurricane Sandy.


Philadelphia is the birthplace of the Declaration of Independence, which makes it the perfect location for one of the country’s biggest Independence Day celebrations. The Welcome America festivities started 10 days before July 4th and events includes concerts, a parade, food fests and a fireworks show.

Check out some of these other events in and around Philadelphia on the Fourth of July.

Washington, D.C.

For those who happen to be in the nation’s capital on July 4, head to the National Mall to check the annual Capitol Fourth display of fireworks and free music. Or check out some of these other events in Washington, D.C.


For 40 years, the Boston Pops Fireworks Spectacular has dazzled Bostonians and visitors alike with their fireworks display and music in an event that is broadcasted on primetime to over 7 million viewers.


Seattle’s Summer Seafair Fourth almost didn’t happen this year when the organizers found themselves short on funding. Fortunately, rescue came in the form of some major corporate donations and the annual fireworks show will take place as scheduled.

Nashville, Tenn.

What better place to take on Independence Day with some great music than in Music City? Nasville’s Let Freedom Sing! event will include performances from The Band Perry, Keb' Mo', the Nashville Symphony and a spectacular fireworks show to top it all off.

Photo Credit: Getty Images

Behind the Scenes: Inside the Nation's Biggest July 4th Celebration


The nation’s biggest Independence Day celebration show lasts 25 minutes but required more than a year of planning and a fireworks shopping trip around the world.

Last fall, pyro technician Gary Souza traveled to China, Portugal, Spain, Germany, and America, looking for the biggest and best new firework shells.

The new pyrotechnics will be making their American debut in the Macy's Fourth of July Fireworks Spectacular, Thursday in New York at 8 p.m. ET on NBC.

“One of my favorites is the happy face that everyone remembers from years past, where a little shell bursts and it’s a nice smile at you. This year we are going to have winking eyes in the smiling face,” said Souza, who serves as show designer.

Some other new designs include a green jellyfish, and “diamonds in the sky” that will shine during Rihanna’s song “Diamonds.” Usher’s song “OMG” will feature newly designed “beating heart” fireworks.

Twenty miles of cable are used to wire the fireworks, some of which measure up to 10 inches in diameter and weigh up to 35 pounds, to the electronic digital firing system. The firework triggers are all computer controlled to launch the pyrotechnics in sync with the music. Show organizers said choosing Grammy Award-winning artist Usher to select songs that match the fireworks will make this year’s display extraordinary.

“[Usher] has had the great good fortune of designing stage shows, writing music and producing concerts, but he has never had the opportunity to paint the sky,” said Amy Kule, executive producer of Macy's Fireworks.

In May, Usher worked with the Macy’s team to design and test the fireworks show in the Mojave Desert. After observing a range of sparking designs, he selected the music and he didn’t just stick to R&B. He chose songs by Jimi Hendrix, Frank Sinatra, Jay-Z, Alicia Keys, and others, including four of his own.

“One that I think will most certainly touch the hearts of America is Sam Cooke’s ‘A Change is Gonna Come’ because that’s where we are—more now than ever we are accepting of change, recognizing our past and becoming better as a result of it,” Usher said.

The 37th annual pyrotechnic display will also include a light show for the first time. The Empire State Building replaced its traditional lights atop the tower with a customizable, colored LED system last year and it will be used Thursday night to complement the flying colors in the sky.

Certain colors, patterns and effects display differently in person than on television, so the team used brighter colored fireworks with longer durations and cascades to impress both audiences, Souza said.

The television broadcast will use 10 cameras placed on the New York and New Jersey sides of the Hudson River and an aerial camera providing a bird's-eye view of the show. Nick Cannon will host the show from New York’s Hudson River Park.

NBC has extended the fireworks special from one hour to two hours for the first time, which has enabled producers to include more performances and new segments.

The team traveled across the country talking to bus drivers, engineers, bridge builders, cowboys and other “regular Americans” to get their opinions of America, and their responses will be featured in a new addition to the program— “American Spirit Moments”—between the musical acts. Taylor Swift, Cher, Pitbull, Selena Gomez, Mariah Carey and Tim McGraw will perform during the first 90 minutes of the show and the fireworks display will fill the last half hour, producer Bill Bracken said.

Though he had an additional hour of broadcast to fill this year, Bracken said finding more musical artists was not a problem.

“The great thing about the Fourth of July is that it’s a show that everyone wants to participate in,” Bracken said. “It’s such a patriotic holiday and given the events that have taken place over the last year—the tragedy of the tornadoes in Oklahoma, the incident in Boston, and hurricane Sandy—Fourth of July is a time for everyone to come together and be proud of their country.”

Photo Credit: WireImage

Milford Emergency Crews Rescue Fawn


A fawn is OK thanks to Milford emergency crews who saved it from an in-ground pool on Tuesday.

On Tuesday afternoon, Milford Fire dispatchers received a request to help Milford Animal Control rescue a fawn from a collapsed in-ground pool on the west side of town.

So, Engine 3 and the shift commander responded to the scene to assist animal control and police and found a trapped baby deer. 

They managed to corral it to safety and the little animal was not harmed.

The fawn has been taken to an animal rehabilitation center in Enfield as a precaution.

Capt. Kyle Brotherton captured these photos, which show Firefighter Frank Murphy and Lt. AJ Murphy during the rescue.

Photo Credit: Captain Kyle Brotherton

Car Crashes into Phone Pole, Catches Fire


Police are investigating a Wallingford crash that resulted in a car fire and split a telephone pole in half Monday night.

Wallingford police responded to the area of Parker Farms Road and Mohawk Drive around 7:45 p.m. after Cheshire police called for help in searching for a blue Mitsubishi Outlander. Police said the car was traveling at a high rate of speed.

The car in question was discovered on its side outside a Parker Farms home. It had burst into flames and sliced through a telephone pole, causing power outages in the area, authorities said.

Driver David Balek, 35, of Waterbury, and a 25-year-old female passenger were transported to Yale New Haven Hospital for non-life threatening injuries.

Charges are pending, police said.

Anyone with information is asked to contact Wallingford police at 203-294-2800.

Photo Credit: Kathleen Douglass

8-Year-Old Raises Money for Make-A-Wish


An 8-year old from Plainville whose lemonade stand raised over $5,000 last year for the Make-A-Wish Foundation plans to double his donation and raise $10,000 more.

Nico Fasold, founder of Nico’s Lemonade Stand, raised more than five times his goal of $1,000 last year. Donations poured in, and the $5,051 he collected was enough to send a young patient and his family to Disney World.

Fasold donates his proceeds to Make-A-Wish, “because it helps kids dreams come true,” he said. Over the past three years, Fasold has raised almost $6,000 for children with life-threatening medical conditions.

Fasold will hold his fourth annual lemonade stand July 13 outside his home at 109 Northwest Drive, Plainville. 

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