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By United Press International  |  Jan. 11, 2006 at 6:30 AM
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Flag painted on street splits town

DULUTH, Ga., Jan. 11 (UPI) -- A Georgia town that claims to be the most patriotic in the country has been split by the painting of a flag on a quiet dead-end street.

The Vietnam veteran who organized the flag-painting in Duluth and the children who carried it out thought they were showing their patriotism. But members of the local Veterans of Foreign Wars chapter say that they had, with the best intentions, committed a terrible breach of flag etiquette, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.

"The sooner it goes, the better," Don Ogden, a World War II veteran, told the City Council. "It is beautiful, but it doesn't belong on the ground."

The council and mayor did not actually order the flag's removal. But they did recommend it.

And now it will almost certainly be removed. Rachel Renbarger, a 9-year-old who helped with the painting, tearfully promised to do it -- and was reassured by those at the meeting that she had done nothing wrong.

"I am so sorry," Rachel said. "We will do whatever it takes to remove it -- me and my sister. I am so sorry."

Snoopy strikes tent at Mall of America

BLOOMINGTON, Minn., Jan. 11 (UPI) -- Snoopy, the ambitious beagle from the Peanuts cartoons, is donning his goggles, helmet and aviator's jacket and leaving the Mall of America in Minnesota.

Starting Monday, Jan. 19, Camp Snoopy, the indoor amusement park at the mall, will be known only as The Park at MOA, at least until the mall's owners decide on a new theme, the St. Paul Pioneer Press reported. The inflatable Snoopy and a Peanuts-themed ride will no longer be there.

The reasons for the change involve changing business relationships. Cedar Fair LP, which managed Camp Snoopy until last spring, holds the exclusive right to use Peanuts characters at its amusement parks.

The Ghermezian family of Canada, the mall's developers, won majority control of the enterprise last year and ended the contract with Cedar Fair. The mall and Cedar Fair have been unable to reach an agreement to allow continued use of Snoopy.

Chicago souvenir hunters hit Trader Vic's

CHICAGO, Jan. 11 (UPI) -- Trader Vic's is poised set sail for a new Chicago home -- most of its huge, heavy accoutrements in tact -- thanks to losing its lease to a retail store.

The restaurant, which closed its 48-year home New Year's Eve, was one of the oldest of the three dozen South Seas Island-themed eateries in the San Francisco-based chain.

The tide changed last August when New York's Thor Equities bought the Palmer House hotel from Hilton Hotel Corp.

However, Harry Carry's Restaurant Group offered a North Side location to house the restaurant and decor that includes outrigger canoes, giant statues and monster carvings.

Even so, Trader Vic President and Chief Executive Officer Hans Richter told the Chicago Tribune that many artifacts will be removed and some will be restored.

Smaller items will have to be replaced, though, since souvenir hunters stripped the restaurant of silverware, lamps and nearly every glass with a Trader Vic's label, Richter said.

Minneapolis mayor named nation's fittest

MINNEAPOLIS, Minn., Jan. 11 (UPI) -- Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak -- an exercise enthusiast and anti-smoking advocate -- is "fittest mayor in America," Men's Fitness magazine says.

Rybak's routine of running, biking, swimming and weightlifting was cited in the magazine's top mayoral fitness award announced in its February issue.

However, St. Paul, Minn., Mayor Chris Coleman was quick to challenge his award-winning mayoral neighbor and fellow exercise enthusiast.

"Game on," Coleman told The St. Paul (Minn.) Pioneer Press of his challenge to Rybak in this summer's running of the Rice Street Mile race in St. Paul.

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