Twice in one morning, a cow had to be corralled after escaping from a live nativity scene in Philadelphia's Old City neighborhood. By the end of the morning Stormy the cow was out a job.
Stormy darted from the live nativity at Old First Reformed United Church of Christ at 4th and Race Streets around 6:30 a.m. Thursday. The 7-year-old Hereford cow, a Philadelphia native, made its way into a nearby parking structure, where it was corralled in the garage attached to the Wyndham Hotel.
Stormy was led with hay down the parking structure and out onto the snowy street. Philadelphia police blocked 4th Street as Stormy was returned to the church, again.
Four hours earlier, the 1,600-pound cow left the nativity and wound up along Interstate 95.
Luckily, one of the Pennsylvania state troopers had the perfect skill set.
"There was a Pennsylvania state trooper with us who owns a horse/cattle ranch in South Jersey," Philadelphia Police Sgt. Tim Devlin said. "He was the one we took the lead from. He's the expert on the topic, he knew how to corral the animal."
Philadelphia and state police eventually boxed in the cow with their cruisers and the trooper used a lasso. They then walked the cow off the highway and put the cow into a horse trailer before returning it to the church. Police later joked that the "Benny Hill" theme must have been playing at the time.
NBC10's Randy Gyllenhaal was told Stormy is a show cow based in the "City of Udderly Love" that is used to being near people. She is from the Manatawna farm in Philadelphia's Roxborough neighborhood, affiliated with the Walter B Saul agricultural high school and often works with kids in the 4-H club. She has birthed a handful calves over the years.
She is part of the Christmas tradition at the Old First Reformed United Church of Christ.
Once back at the church, Stormy was chomping down on a meal — of course, she did the same thing last time as well.
The Rev. Michael Caine says it looks as if someone tampered with the enclosure before the initial escape. But it was unclear how Stormy escaped the second time.
The church had a plan to prevent a third escape: they replaced Stormy with Ginger, a smaller, more manageable cow that shouldn't be able to get out of the enclosure.
The live crèche, featuring a donkey, sheep and goats opened on Dec. 7 and runs through Dec. 27, drawing families taking photos. You can even volunteer to feed the animals.
The humor of the double escape wasn't lost on Philadelphia police. "A cow is loose. Again. No, we can't believe we're tweeting this either," they tweeted with a Star Trek-inspired photo.
Police even put out this amazing tidbit in a news release: "Police sergeant scours radio logs in an attempt to make sense of what will go down as one of the greatest events in human history."