West Palm Beach Mayor Lois Frankel is to give Ozzy Osbourne a key to the city at a ceremony tonight, marking perhaps the most meaningless key to the city handoff in the history of key to the city awards.
And there's a long history of embarrassing key handoffs, although perhaps none quite as meaningless as Ozzy's acceptance here. Frankel's reason for giving Osbourne this honor? It's not just that he's in town for a book signing. The official reason is that he has played here before. And brought Ozzfest to town. Which is different from every other midsized town in America in absolutely no discernible ways.
But Frankel isn't alone in embarrassing herself with a mayoral key ceremony. Among the most notable:
5. Terrell Owens
Buffalo, New York
Ah, the optimism that comes with the start of football season in a town known mostly for closed factories. Last year, when wide receiver Terrell Owens signed with the Buffalo Bills, the city's mayor gave him a key with the hope he could turn around not only the troubled franchise but the very city itself. Well, not so much. Owens turned out his second-worst season since his rookie year and is likely headed back to free agency. Hey
Owens, can you return that key on your way out?
4. Glenn Beck
Mount Vernon, Washington
Mount Vernon Mayor Bud Norris ignored complaints about his plan to declare a Glenn Beck Day and hand off a key the city's native son and Fox News commentator. At the ceremony, Beck motioned to the protesters nearby and said: "Now, I would give my right arm to live in a town like Mount Vernon. And I discovered today that there are a ton of people ready to cut it off. It doesn't bother me, because I have the key to their house now." Luckily, the key was actually mounted to a plaque and could not be used to spread Beck's message of hate.
3. Saddam Hussein
Two decades ago, Saddam Hussein was the new president of Iraq and a benefactor of a church in Detroit. It all began when the pastor at Chaldean Sacred Heart in Detroit sent Hussein a congratulatory letter; Hussein then sent the church thousands in donations. When Hussein showed up to receive his key, he also cut the church a check for $200,000 to pay off its mortgage. Luckily, Chaldean never became the First United Church of Saddam.
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2. Michael Jackson
Las Vegas, Nevada
No doubt it seems perfect to pair the so-called King of Pop with the Kingdom of Glitz. But Jackson's questionable past with kids (too soon?) made him an odd choice as a recipient of a key in 2003. After all, we're talking about a key that can access the bedrooms of all of the city's children.
Ah, isn't it nice to see South Florida at the top of a list? Sure, Saddam was a bad choice, but that's only in retrospect. Jackson, arguably, still had a music career to counteract unproven claims of child abuse. But Pitbull? The rapper and Miami native had a pair of DUI convictions on his record and admitted to previously selling drugs when Commissioner Tomas Regalado gave him a key to everything in 2009. For a preview piece, NBC offered the headline: "Change the Locks! Pitbull Gets Keys to Miami." This might be a good time to make sure the front door is locked.