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May 21, 2012 at 6:00 AM
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Denver Ukulele Fest draws 1,200

DENVER, May 21 (UPI) -- The Fifth Annual Denver Ukulele Festival drew an estimated 1,200 enthusiasts, from seasoned strummers to novice dabblers, organizers said.

The festival, which ran from Thursday to Sunday, featured workshops for all skill levels, as well as concerts, jam fests and strum-alongs. For any curious newcomer without a tiny guitar, The Denver Post reported there were loaners on hand.

"You can't be unhappy playing the ukulele," said Jennifer Masteller, who first attended three years ago. "It's the most cheerful sound."

Michael Schenkelberg, director of Swallow Hill Music School, started the festival in 2008, with little more than a mild interest. He had never even taken a lesson.

"If someone walks into a room and sees a guitar, they're usually interested but won't play it if you hand it to them," he said. "For some reason people don't feel as intimidated with this instrument."

The workshops use familiar analogies to teach people the instrument, and attendees generally get the hang of the ukulele rather quickly.

Attendee William Dewey started learning a few months ago from his wife Jennifer, who had attended the festival three times before.

"It's nice being in a room full of ukes," Dewey said.

Burglar's disguise -- underpants

FRUITLAND, Idaho, May 21 (UPI) -- Security footage at a Fruitland, Idaho, coffee shop caught two robbers making off with a safe -- one of them wearing underwear on his head as a disguise.

Eight security cameras at the Big Star Coffee Shop caught the robbery on tape around 4:34 a.m. Friday, The Idaho Statesman reported. Two men busted in, one with a bandana over his face, the other hiding behind a pair of undies.

"They kicked in the back door and went right for the safe," said owner Jason Wilson, who suspects one of the culprits to be a disgruntled former employee.

Their plan came up short when they found the big safe, weighing more than 200 pounds and bolted into cement, was impossible to steal. Instead they made off with a smaller safe containing less than $500.

"Who robs something with underwear on their head?" Wilson riddled. "I think the underwear shows they're not the smartest criminals -- or the most well-prepared."

An employee discovered the robbery at 5:30 a.m., after the masterminds left considerable evidence at the scene. Police were investigating.

Dog unhurt after falling down 30-foot well

ANDERSON, S.C., May 21 (UPI) -- An Anderson, S.C., cocker spaniel emerged unhurt after falling down a 30-foot-deep well, its owner said.

Amanda Schronce and her family were working Friday to repair a home well when the 4-year-old dog, Reese, jumped on top of the well around 6:30 p.m. to get a look into the well house. Schronce told The Independent Mail the dog did it all the time.

But the well cover had been removed earlier, so Reese took a 30-foot dive into an unexpected doggy bath.

Schronce called 911. Firefighters, deputies and the Anderson Technical Rescue team arrived to fish Reese out, and the soaking wet pup was reunited with its owner in less than an hour.

Calgary mayor immortalized in gumballs

CALGARY, Alberta, May 21 (UPI) -- The mayor of Calgary, Canada, said seeing his portrait created from 12,000 gumballs was "a little weird."

American artist Franz Spohn enlisted some Calgary youngsters this weekend to help him build a mosaic of Mayor Naheed Nenshi at the Museum of Contemporary Art Calgary.

"It's still a little weird," Nenshi told the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. after he swung by the museum to see the work in progress. "It's still a little awkward, but it is very neat to see all these people of every age come together and make this art together."

Spohn's vision was realized meticulously, with the kids placing each gumball into a tube and then dropping it into place until his honor's likeness came into view. Art lovers can chew on the finished work at the museum all week as part of the Calgary International Children's Festival.

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