10 Best "Surprise" Headlines From Surprise, Arizona

When you live near a city named "Surprise," local news headlines can be eye-catching for the wrong reasons.

Instead of a real surprise, the story may be about some routine happening. Yet the town's name adds pizzazz to every headline — though not necessarily in a sensitive, appropriate manner.

We found 10 recent headlines that undoubtedly caught a few more eyes than they would have otherwise.

Quick history before our list:

Surprise, Arizona, was founded in 1938 by real-estate developer Flora Mae Statler, according to a 2010 book put out by the city.

Historians had long believed Statler's husband, Homer C. Ludden, founded the city and named it after his Nebraska hometown, a tiny village of fewer than 50 people. In fact, as city researchers found, Statler was the founder. According to her daughter, Statler named the city "Surprise" after once stating that she'd be surprised if the town ever amounted to anything.

Surprise is now a suburb on the west side of the Phoenix metro area, with a population of more than 100,000. At that size, the town has many of the same problems as other Valley cities — but each problem is a "surprise."

Check out these examples:

10. "Surprise car accident" is, of course, redundant. If you're surprised because your car hit something, that would be one definition of an accident.

9. Nobody expects their school bus to hit and kill a burro. But it's a heck of a surprise when it does happen — particularly in Surprise.

8. This sounds like a unexpected-but-happy event, especially if you're hungry. But we see a couple of other connotations in this one. There are darned few Filipino restaurants in the Valley, so it actually is a surprise to see one open. Considering the state's reputation as Bigotland, we thought this headline also captures the shock some readers may feel upon learning something ethnic is taking place here.

7. Salespeople and retail stores face stiff competition in the Valley. Local vendors need a niche and on the west side, apparently, it's the element of Surprise. The August 2013 story in the Arizona Republic is about a policy that prefers local vendors to meet city needs over out-of-city folks. But if you hadn't heard of the city, you might think this article is about a funky, new marketing technique that imparts unexpected delights on its customers.

6. A shooting may not always be an accident, of course. But in Surprise — judging by the headlines — no victim ever gets a warning.

5. Surprise election results are always impossible to predict. Ba-dum-chh. One reading of this headline, though, is that the mayoral contest itself was unforeseen. In theory, any politician could win with just one vote in a Surprise election.

4.Few things in life are as startling as a groping.

3. Often, a first reading of a headline from Surprise fools us into thinking some new and interesting thing has been invented. In the first of the two headlines above, for instance, there seems to be this concept of a "surprise home" — a place in which the unusual and unexpected might be routine. Another headline we saw introduced the idea of a "surprise crosswalk" that, naturally, can't be as safe as the normal kind.

2. Headline writers label people regularly with just a hometown and a gender, as in, "Phoenix man," "Apache Junction woman," etc. But when you place "Surprise" before such an identifier, as in the previous example, it's like you've coined a new phrase to detail something special. Here in the Phoenix metro area, we've got "Surprise Girls" — so take care!

1. "Who's buried in Surprise?" Whoever it is — dig them out, fast!

If you come across any other good headlines from Surprise, feel free to post them in our comments section.

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Ray Stern has worked as a newspaper reporter in Arizona for more than two decades. He's won numerous awards for his reporting, including the Arizona Press Club's Don Bolles Award for Investigative Journalism.