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The Lonely Parking Meter

Winters, California, is a small suburb of Sacramento with a population of around 7,000 people. Downtown parking caused some folks to grumble, but no new spaces came about to address the problem. But a parking meter did. One parking meter. The only one in town.

In the early morning of April 1, 2015 someone decided to install an old—yet still functioning—parking meter in the downtown area. This was the first parking meter to ever appear in this town of 7,000 people. A Sacramento television station dispatched a film crew to record this April Fool’s prank.  

The locals quickly figured out they could ignore the meter and were soon going about their business as usual. The police department had been instructed to ignore the meter. They have never written a ticket. It is rumored that the police don’t even have an ordinance addressing parking meters.

Occasionally, a parent will drop in a dime and turn the red handle—just to show their young ones how it works.  Out-of-towners have been seen feeding the meter and then walking away grumbling.

The meter was removed once, but Winters residents demanded that it be returned. The good news is that the $100 or so the parking meter brings in every year helps to buy Fourth of July fireworks for the town. This item is from the 18 Quirkiest Local Landmarks in Small-Town America at Atlas Obscura. Your town may be there!

(Image credit: Atlas Obscura member Bruce Ferrari)


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