Thousands of work boots, bath slippers, tennis sneakers and beach sandals -- even roller blades -- materialized inexplicably along the southbound lanes of a busy Miami freeway during rush hour Friday morning, disrupting traffic for hours.
A mountain of those thousands of used shoes is now somewhere in northern Miami-Dade County, and Florida Highway Patrol officials are distributing them to local and national nonprofits that promise to give them to the poor.
No witnesses have yet come forward to explain just how thousands of shoes appeared at 7:42 a.m. on the southbound lanes of the Palmetto Expressway between the Bird Road and Miller Drive exits.
Some think a truck's doors simply burst open, allowing its massive shipment to scatter across the concrete. Others suggest an intricate prank, much like the one pulled off by thieves who returned a statue stolen from the West Palm Beach home of Bernard Madoff.
And others consider it a protest against President Bush, a reference to his recent shoe-dodging experience in Iraq.
Whatever the case, several nonprofits were invited to pick up as many shoes as they could carry from the stack that the Florida Highway Patrol was keeping in northern Miami-Dade.
If no one claims the thousands of shoes, they'll go to the most needy.
The thousands of shoes caused long traffic delays and a two-hour clean-up. Employees of the Florida Department of Transportation's Road Rangers service, which is meant to provide roadside assistance, managed to push all the shoes into one lane using large brooms. A private contractor was hired to use a front-end loader to pick up the shoes by the dozen and load them into a large dump truck, Santangelo said.
Law enforcement officials said the person responsible for leaving behind the sea of soles will be charged for the clean up.
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