- For residents in some east Wichita neighborhoods Friday
afternoon, the weather was particularly strange: Partly cloudy, with a
chance of corn husks.
- People in homes near 13th and Woodlawn reported seeing
what looked like extraordinarily large, dried corn husks spiraling down
from the sky about 6 p.m.
- Paul Corn (yes, that's his real name) was playing host
to a family reunion in his back yard in the 1000 block of Vincent Lane
on Friday afternoon. He said the family stopped swimming when they noticed
something strange spiraling down from the sky.
- They waited for it to land to see what it was, but the
frond came to rest just over the fence in a neighbor's yard.
- Then there were more. And more. Each one, about 30 inches
long and 3 inches wide.
- "They just kept coming down," he said. "There
had to be, I don't know, a thousand of these things."
- The family was curious enough to jump out of the pool
and into the car, driving a short distance around the neighborhood to find
more, which they did.
- There is no telling how many of the leaves fell, but
several were seen lying along Armour Street, between Central Avenue and
- Officials with Weather Data Inc., a local forecasting
service, said they had received no reports of the corn-husk shower. But
meteorologist Jeff House seemed intrigued.
- "Corn husks falling from the sky. Hmmm," he
said. "That is odd."
- Could they have been stirred up by a tornado in some
Iowa cornfield? Blown hundreds of miles through thick summer air, only
to billow down on back yards and driveways in east Wichita?
- "That's a good thought," House said. "But
no chance. Not today."
- Our region -- in fact, the whole country -- was tornado-free
on Friday. It wasn't even particularly windy, House said. Just really hot.
- So maybe August turned that Iowa corn into popcorn, and
the remnant husks exploded into the atmosphere?
- "Doubtful," House said. "Whatever it was,
it was probably caused by man."
- Some residents speculated that the leaves fell from a
plane. Air traffic authorities could not be reached for comment Friday
- One more theory: University of Nebraska fans were behind
it. Gearing up for another Cornhusker football season, they decided to
blanket their southern rivals in a giant -- and ingenious, we might add
-- Cornhusker Practical Joke.
- Bill Harper is a member of the Wichita-based Kansas Cornhusker
Club. "We may live in the heart of Kansas," says the group's
Web site. "But our hearts belong to the HUSKERS!!"
- Harper denied having anything to do with Friday's incident.
- "Oh, not that I know of. I don't think any of us
are behind it," Harper said. He noted, however, that the group's annual
picnic is scheduled for 5 p.m. today, at the Sedgwick County Extension
building at 21st Street and Ridge Road.
- Mike Nieman, a witness to the mysterious corn episode,
was visiting Wichita from Los Angeles. He said it seemed fitting for such
a strange thing to happen in Kansas.
- "It's just a magical place," he joked. "It's
the land of Oz."