TRAVIS AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. (AP) — It's the best sort of holiday surprise. A Northern California airman is home early from Afghanistan. Four-year-old Stephanie Randall couldn't believe it when her dad, Air Force Staff Sergeant Brett Randall, walked on stage just after her dance recital. Mom, Jennifer, was stunned, too. She says "it's fantastic." Jennifer adds she just wanted him home by Christmas. Sergeant Randall rotated back to the states four days earlier than expected. He had been stationed at Bagram Airfield in Afghanistan for more than six months.
DROPPING DOLLAR BILLS
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — An anonymous donor wants to create a blizzard of bucks. Officials in Wichita, Kansas, say the person hopes to drop dollar bills from a helicopter. But city regs could ground the plan. Officials told the donor that a permit would likely be required and there are safety concerns about people chasing after free money. Officials say it's unlikely such an event could take place before Christmas, if at all. The Wichita Eagle reports the donor hasn't said just how much cash would be tossed from the chopper.
BIG RIG BBQ
PALMYRA, Pa. (AP) — It's big. It's bad. And it's barbecue. The guys behind BA BBQ have converted an 18-wheeler into a humongous food truck. BA BBQ has 10 grills and a custom smoker that can cook two whole hogs and 300 chickens at once. Anthony Romberger is one of the partners and is a Marine vet of the Iraq war. He says they wanted to stand out from everyone else. The barbecue monster was built in Pennsylvania. The partners tell the Harrisburg Patriot-News they're taking BA BBQ on an East Coast tour. They hope to build at least two more trucks and crisscross the U.S.
$88 MILLION CONDO
NEW YORK (AP) — No dorm room for this billionaire coed. New York's most expensive condo has been bought for the 22-year-old daughter of a Russian fertilizer mogul. The nearly 7,000-square-foot penthouse on Central Park West cost $88 million. For that kind of money you get a wraparound terrace with a spectacular view. The new pad is for 22-year-old Ekaterina Rybolovleva (ay-kaht-ayr-EEN'-ah ree-boh-LOH'-vlyeh-vah). A spokesman says the young woman attends an undisclosed American university. She will stay in the luxury digs on occasion.
MODEL TRAIN SHOP
NORTH EAST, Md. (AP) — George Boatwright is still working on the railroad -- just not the big ones. After more than 30 years as a conductor and engineer, Boatwright has opened a model train shop in Maryland. He says grown men sometimes cry when they see the tiny trains chugging through a Christmas-themed village. Boatwright tells a local paper (Cecil Whip) those who aren't moved to tears have smiles.
ENGAGEMENT RING FOUND
STANFORD, Mont. (AP) — After more than 36 years, Donna Claver has her engagement ring back. She dropped it down a toilet as a young wife and couldn't retrieve it. Over the years, Terry and Donna Claver's house in Stanford, Montana, had been sold several times. Recently, Terry and his son were roofing a house across the street from the old home. Terry noticed the toilet was being replaced. He offered to haul it away and later smashed it with sledgehammer. Inside was the engagement ring. Donna tells the Great Falls Tribune they cried and laughed after finding it.
Copyright 2011 The Associated Press.