But in real life, many Long Island villages, towns and counties do have their own fair share of odd laws that carry some stiff fines -- and even jail time. From harboring a heavyset cat to exposing your bathing suit, even playing video games, here are 50 things that are strangely illegal in parts of Long Island.
You won't find any so-called "cat ladies" in Freeport. In this village, code 78-13 says it is illegal to keep a combined total of five cats or dogs in a single residence. Four is the limit.
In Freeport, don't consider harvesting your own honey -- it is illegal to keep any bees or other flying insects inside village limits. The penalty is $25 for each offense, and each day that a person or entity is found in violation constitutes a separate offense, according to Penal Code 78-11.
Many villages in Long Island prohibit bicycling on sidewalks, unless you're a child riding a tricycle. But in Cedarhurst, if you burn too much rubber on your bike, you could also get a hefty fine. Bikes on the road cannot exceed 10 miles per hour, or a cyclist could face a fine up to $500 or 90 days in jail.
Farmingdale Village residents can't consider pigs as mankind's other best friend. Swine cannot be kept within 100 feet of any place humans live, or these humans could have to pay up to $250, according to penal code 224-2.
No U-turns. Ever.
If you pass your destination in West Hampton Dunes, you'll have to make a few turns and start all over again. Drivers are forbidden from making U-turns within village limits. Going against the code will cost you $100 in fines.
Don't mask your feelings ... or your face.
One state law that Long Islanders have to deal with is that it is illegal to congregate in public with two or more people while wearing a mask or face that disguises your identity. Penal Law 240.35(4) states that you may only do this for entertainment purposes and you have received permission from local authorities. (We would hope WWE mainstay Rey Mysterio could get a pass.) Otherwise, you could face a fine of up to $250.
Skeet shooting allowed
Even the mayor of Upper Brookville,Terry L. Thielen, was surprised to learn recently that skeet shooting is permitted within the village under certain conditions. The code prohibits the use of any firearm or weapon "in the open air within the corporate limits of the Village," but among the exceptions to this law is skeet shooting. "The owner or lessee of property, or any of his immediate family, employees or guests, engaged in the sport of skeet or trap shooting between the hours of 9 a.m. and sunset and under such circumstances as not to endanger person or property" is allowed, according to the code. But if more than 12 people plan to engage in this activity at once on the same property, the code then requires a permit be obtained. Village officials held a hearing on Feb. 16 to discuss repealing the law, but postponed making any decision.
Red light, green light, 1-2-3.
Have a blinking holiday display planned for next year? Tough luck if you live in Village of the Branch, where illuminated signs with "moving or flashing parts" are strictly forbidden. Living near a busy intersection will further restrict one's light show, as green, red and orange-yellow lights are not permitted "if located so as to be confused with traffic signals."
No soaring higher than the heavens.
Buildings may aim for the heavens, but they may not actually reach them in Garden City. The village forbids any building from being taller than the soaring spire of the Cathedral of the Incarnation. Garden City enforces the code so strictly that even the village's iconic hotel and adjoining condominium complex couldn't break the code. Both The Garden City Hotel and the Wyndham Condominiums sit in a large, man-made pit to live up to code.
No hitchhiking at the Billy Joel concert
Nassau County sets aside specific rules regarding the Nassau Coliseum. Bringing in a homemade cocktail, holding a sign that blocks everyone's view of the rink, starting a fire, hitchhiking, and bringing in unlicensed fireworks are among a long list of no-nos on the Coliseum property.
Harboring illegal avians
Your pigeons need legal documentation to live in Westbury, which devotes an entire section of its village code to pigeon-keeping. Only Antwerp Messenger and Homing Pigeons, known as "carrier pigeons," may be kept within village limits. Those pigeons must have their owner's names and registration numbers clearly marked on its wing, tail, or on a band around its leg.
County loses to trading cards
Not all trading cards are sports stars like Sandy Koufax, and not all laws are meant to last. In 1992, Nassau County Local Law No. 11-1992 was enacted, saying that the selling of trading cards to minors which depict a "heinous crime, an element of a heinous crime, or a heinous criminal and which is harmful to minors" was a Class A misdemeanor. Companies involved in the manufacturing and distributing of cards featuring the likes of Lee Harvey Oswald sued on free-speech grounds, and Nassau lost multiple court decisions, including one by the U.S. Second Circuit Court of Appeals in 1997.
Film it in four days or less.
If Steven Spielberg wants to film "ET 2” in an Ocean Beach neighborhood, he’ll have to wrap it up in four days or less. The Fire Island village won’t issue a permit for filming in a residential zone for more than four days out of the calendar year.
No bongs about it.
Even if you’re just "holding it for a friend,” bongs and any other drug paraphernalia are strictly forbidden in Islandia. Village code state that drug-related products, including anything used for "planting, propagating, cultivating, growing, harvesting, manufacturing, compounding, conveying, producing, processing, preparing, testing, analyzing, packaging, repackaging, storing, containing, concealing, injecting, ingesting, inhaling or otherwise introducing into the human body,” are off limits.
Get your goat out of here.
Westbury has specific and strict rules regarding what kind of animals can be kept by its residents. Village code states that “the keeping, maintaining or harboring within the village of chickens, ducks, geese, turkeys or other fowl, pigs, swine, goats, sheep, horses, mules, donkeys, cows or other cattle, rabbits, hares, mink and other fur-bearing animals customarily kept or raised for their pelts of fur, alligators, any poisonous or dangerous reptile, insect or arachnid or any vicious or dangerous animal, including but not limited to pit bulls, bird or fowl, wild or domestic, is hereby declared to be a nuisance."
No towering houses.
If you dream of living in a Rapunzel-like tower, Saddle Rock isn’t for you. Saddle Rock codes states that buildings in the village can’t be taller than 25 feet or more than 2.5 stories, whichever is less. No building can exceed 25 percent of a lot’s area and all patios, terraces, and open standing or sitting areas have to be at least five feet from the lot line, code says.
Watch where you bury that.
The remains of the dearly departed can’t mix with the drinking water in Old Westbury. Village code states that a human body can't be buried within 500 feet of any well.
Take down the tag sale signs.
Once spring has sprung, tag sale season kicks into gear. In Flower Hill, a maximum of two signs are allowed per tag sale, according to village code. Those signs must be no bigger than 24-by-12 inches and can only be posted on the property where the tag sale is held. Once a tag sale is over, the homeowner has 48 hours to remove the signs. However, charitable, educational, cultural, and governmental agencies can squeeze past the rule.
You could be busted for wearing a bikini
A good cover-up could keep a person out of jail in Laurel Hollow. Anyone sporting a visible bathing suit or bathing garment on any public street, path or highway in the village could find themselves in troubled waters. The village code states that unless the bathing attire is hidden from view by either "a coat or cloak extending from the shoulders to below the knees," the wearer could be hit with a fine as high as $250, a maximum 15-day jail sentence, or both.
Sledding in designated areas only.
When Mother Nature dumps a foot of snow on Long Island, kids and the young at heart head out for snowball fights and sledding. While sledding is perfectly legal in Glen Cove, the city regulates the location of the wintertime activity. All sleighs, sleds, sled boards and anything similar are forbidden from city sidewalks.
Speak softly and don't frighten the cat.
A loud "Bully!" from an effervescent Theodore Roosevelt (or impersonator Jim Foote) may have earned the president a violation from the Long Island village he called home. Cove Neck code says no one may "make or cause to be made or continued, nor shall any owner, lessee or occupant of any land in the Village permit to be made or continued on his premises, any unreasonable noise within the village without a permit. The same code forbids the use of noise making devices that frighten cats, dogs, birds, horses, and other animals.
Leave your hookahs at home.
Avoid Lynbrook if you're a fan of hookah smoking or have switched to e-cigarettes. The village outlaws both activities from public places, schools, private clubs and lounges, and restaurants, among other places. Partaking in the habit could set you back between $100 and $500 in civil penalties per puff.
No snowball fights
Sticks and stones may break your bones -- and throwing them in the village of Freeport could earn you some jail time. That same local law, which prohibits the propelling, throwing and shooting of "any missile or solid objects" including sticks, stones, metal and bullets, also extends to snowballs. Violators could face a fine of up to $250, 15 days in jail or both.
Horseback riding lessons in Long Beach.
Is learning to ride a horse on your bucket list? Be sure not to take lessons in Long Beach, where horseback riding lessons are forbidden on streets and in public places. Fines for hosting your horseback riding classes could cost between $5 and $15 per offense.
No funny car horns.
Have a classic car outfitted with a custom car horn? Rented a limo that plays "Here Comes the Bride" for the big day? You won't be allowed to sound it until you're out of the Town of Oyster Bay. Car horns that signal anything but an emergency are forbidden in the town code. The same law states that cars must be outfitted with proper mufflers or other sound-dissipating devices.
No musical bike rides.
You'll have to settle for humming that rad playlist you made for Hamptons bike rides. Town of East Hampton forbids anyone from wearing headphones while riding a bike, in-line skating, roller skating, or skateboarding. Cheating by only listening with one ear is also forbidden. Cyclists, skaters, and skateboarders on the highway must "ride in single file, and at no time shall in-line skates, roller skates or skateboards be operated two or more abreast," according to the law.
Keep your pants on
Reconsider going au naturale when in the Town of Hempstead, where public nudity is outlawed. The wearing of one's birthday suit could earn the violator a $250 fine and 15 days in jail. However, kids and moms can work their way around the law, which makes exceptions for mothers who are breastfeeding and children 10 years old or younger.
Bone marrow donor? Take a week off
Donating bone marrow is a rough gig that isn't for everyone. However, those who do so receive the satisfaction of helping another person who is fighting a life-threatening illness. In Nassau County, donors are allowed a little extra reward: up to seven days of paid leave from work while they recover. The same law stipulates that organ donors may be given 30 days of paid leave.
Robin Hood and Katniss Everdeen would hate the Town of Babylon, where it is illegal to use a bow and arrow. In fact, it is illegal to discharge any type of firearm. Violators could be hit with a $250 fine and up to 15 days in jail.
Christmas lights only
Think twice about aiming your security lights at your annoying neighbor's window all night in Nissequogue. Exterior lighting may not be a nuisance within the village limits and must be shut off after 11 p.m., according to village code. Nissequogue also specifies that lights may not "shine directly on or at neighboring property or a public or private road." The one exception to the rule is the holiday season, when decorative lighting may be used.
No plane parking anytime
Next time you're soaring over the Island, remember not to land in Rockville Centre. Village code says no one can "land or start any aircraft or operate any landing field within the Village" without a permit. Pilots could soar through a potential loophole, however, if they manage to start their engine outside the village limits ... not that we're encouraging that.
Hold onto those balloons
You can release 20 balloons; even 24 is fine in Suffolk County - but just don't send that 25th sack of inflated latex up in the air. The county has a law prohibiting the release of "25 or more helium or lighter-than-air gas balloons" within a 24-hour period. Violators could face penalties ranging from $500 to $1,000, according to the code. And yes, 99 red balloons are out of the question.
Step away from the video game
The next time your kid won't put down the PlayStation remote, just tell them it's illegal to play video games ... well, sort of. The Town of Babylon has had a law on the books since 1983 that restricts the use of video games by anyone under the age of 16. But it only applies to weekdays during school hours and only to "commercial video games," meaning ones you would pay to play inside an arcade. (The law was adopted to curtail school truancy.) So no, your kid's Xbox and Nintendo DS technically don't fall under this law, but we won't judge you if you tell them otherwise.
Don't try to tame a bucking bull in the Town of North Hempstead. Mechanical bulls, the recreational devices designed to simulate bull riding, have been banned in the town since 1981. According to the law, the town board investigated and found that the use of mechanical bucking devices "has caused and is capable of causing severe personal injury." So to protect its residents, the installation, operation and use of these robotic beasts in any public place is prohibited. Violators can be fined up to $250 and imprisoned up to 15 days.
Don't look into the future
Put down that crystal ball. It's illegal to work as a fortuneteller in the village of Lindenhurst. The code there states that a person is guilty of fortunetelling if they "claim or pretend to tell fortunes" or use "occult powers" to answer questions, give advice or "effect evil spirits or curses" in exchange for compensation. Violators may be forced to pay anywhere between $50 to $250 for each day the violation occurs. However, if you're engaging in this behavior as part of a show intended to entertain or amuse, then you get a pass.
Sundays are not fun days
Sundays sound pretty boring in Babylon Village and New Hyde Park, where local laws ban various forms of entertainment on this day of the week. In New Hyde Park, "no person shall conduct any game, entertainment, amusement or other activity ... on a Sunday that would disturb the peace or quiet of the community." (There are some exceptions including lawful activities conducted inside parks after 1 p.m.). The Babylon Village law prohibits circuses, theatrical shows, carnivals and games, but activities taking place inside "motion-picture theaters" and "ballgames played in a quiet and orderly manner" are permitted after 2 p.m. Violators face fines ranging from $50 to $100 and/or up to five days in jail in New Hyde Park, and in Babylon Village, up to $250 or 15 days imprisonment.
No nodding off in your car
If you think you can catch a few winks in your car before driving home from Southampton think again. Between 2 a.m. and 5 a.m., it's illegal to sleep inside a stationary motor vehicle parked on any street or beach access road, or inside a park, parking area or recreation area owned, controlled, operated or maintained by the village. Violators could face fines of up to $1,000 or 15 days in prison.
BYOB -- Bring your own baskets
If you want to hand out pamphlets or notices on the streets of Hewlett Harbor, you must supply your own waste paper baskets, no less than two of them, according to a local law. Each wire basket or similar receptacle must also be clearly marked with the phrase "deposit rubbish here" or something similar, states the code. This is so those wishing to discard the material you're doling out can do so conveniently without littering. Failing to do so could result in a fine of up to $250.
Cracking down on unplanned dog pregnancies
We hope this law never extends to humans. In the Town of East Hampton, female dogs in heat must be quarantined. To prevent unplanned canine pregnancies, a town law requires owners of female canines experiencing this part of their reproductive cycle to confine the animal in a "building or secure enclosure" so the dog "cannot come into contact with another animal except for planned breeding." Violators could face fines of up to $50 for the first offense, $100 for the second and up to $250 after more than two violations.
Games must not be annoying
Brightwaters doesn't ban recreational sports from its parks, but it could pull the plug on your pickup game if it pesters others in the village. A local law states that "one may play baseball or indulge in any game or sport only when it shall not be dangerous to or annoy the users of any park or nearby residents." Sure, safety is important, but the code doesn't specify the criteria for determining if a game is annoying. The code states that violators shall be punishable by a fine not to exceed $250 or 15 days in jail, or both.
No fat cats
Tabby cats are allowed in Centre Island. Tubby felines are a different story. The village code states that house cats must not weigh more than 15 pounds. Harboring a husky feline could result in a $100 fine, but Centre Island Mayor Lawrence Schmidlapp said he has yet to see any cat owners ticketed for violating this rule. "Somehow in their infinite wisdom, the forefathers of this village assigned 15 pounds as a size of cat, which, if roaming free, could potentially harm someone or something," he said. "It would only be enforceable if there was an incident and the cat did weigh that much. My guess would be that in days past, there was such an incident and so the law was written."
Keep your shirt on, dude
It's not just females who are prohibited from going topless in Port Jefferson. A village law barring anyone from appearing on a public street, sidewalk or highway sporting just a bathing suit extends to males, too. The code states that men must wear a shirt or comparable cover-up if they want to avoid a possible fine of up to $250, 15 days in jail, or both.
A curfew for trick-or-treaters
Halloween ends early in the Village of Manorhaven. The village code states that from 7 p.m. on Oct. 30 to 6 a.m. on Oct. 31, and from 7 p.m. on Oct. 31 to 6 a.m. on Nov. 1, it's unlawful for minors to be in any public place or on private property other than their own home without permission from the property owner. Violators could face fines up to $250 or 15 days in jail. But minors attending functions sponsored by a school, church, political or nonprofit organization are exempt from the rule. According to a village official, the law was adopted in 1992 after teens in a nearby town threw an explosive under a police car, injuring an officer.
The circus is not allowed in town
You won't find Ringling Bros. in North Haven. According to the village's code, "No rodeo, circus, carnival, tent show, children's ride, adult ride, music festival or other outdoor performance shall be conducted in the Village." Violators could have to pay a fine of up to $250, 15 days in jail, or both. Floral Park also has a similar ban on outdoor shows and rides.
Cats must be musical
When a bell rings in the Fire Island village of Saltaire, there's a good chance a cat is close by. The village code states that a cat is not permitted to run at large within the village unless a bell is securely attached to its collar or harness. The bells are intended to protect birds in the area by warning them of an approaching feline, according to the code. A cat without a bell could cost its owner a fine of up to $250, 15 days in prison, or both.
Only deep-water skinny dipping is permitted
The Laurel Hollow village code dictates that anyone who wishes to swim sans a bathing suit must be more than 1,500 feet from shore. Swimming "in a state of nudity" or in a bathing suit or costume that is worn "indecently or immorally" is also prohibited at any public or open tank, pool or bath within the village. Exhibitionists could face a maximum fine of $250, up to 15 days in jail, or both.
Hold your horses
Should you decide to ride your horse “or any other animal” through the streets of Rockville Centre, take it slow. The village’s code prohibits riding a horse or other animal on any street or in any public place at "a pace other than walk." Riders who don’t rein in their trusty steeds could be hit with a fine of up to $250, 15 days in jail, or both. A spokeswoman said the law dates to the village's first board meeting. Rockville Centre was incorporated in 1893.
Speak no evil
Laurel Hollow has its own swear jar -- and it takes more than quarters. People found guilty of using "profane, vulgar or obscene language" in any place "where others are present" can expect to pay a fine of up to $250 or spend up to 15 days in jail, according to Chapter 85 of the village code, which is titled "Peace and Good Order."
Jackasses, keep out
Plandome Heights has a strict ban on donkeys as well as the harboring of pigeons, swine, goats, horses, rabbits, foxes, minks, skunks or other similar fur-bearing animals. Beekeeping also isn’t allowed. If caught in the possession of any listed animal, residents may face a $250 maximum fine, a potential of 15 days in prison, or both.
Watch out for the pollen police
Gardeners, beware. In Brookville, the village code not only requires residents to maintain a well-groomed yard, but it also prohibits any “amount of brush, grass or weeds that …. produces unhealthful amounts of pollen.” First-time violations can result in a fine of up to $1,000, five days in prison, or both. And after the third offense, that fine can skyrocket to $10,000 and could include a 15-day jail sentence. But if you suffer from allergies, this may be the place for you to live.
Don't feed the birds
Forget what Mary Poppins says, because feeding the birds in the villages of Poquott or Mill Neck will cost you more than a tuppence. Both villages prohibit the feeding of waterfowl on publicly owned land, citing both a need to protect the birds and the environment. Fines range from $50 to $250 in Poquott and between $100 and $500 in Mill Neck for the first offense.
Potential jail time for campers
Sorry, scouts. Camping in a public place is not allowed in the villages of Mill Neck or Port Washington North. In Port Washington North, the code states that “raising or maintaining a tent, trailer or camp, even temporarily, is against the law.” Mill Neck’s code bars raising or maintaining any kind of tent or camp for living or sleeping on any beach or public place. Violators in both villages could face a maximum fine of $250, 15 days in jail, or both. Better stick to camping in your own backyard.
Put down the staple gun
You’ll have to find another way to advertise your upcoming garage sale in the Village of Roslyn. The code there dictates that no one is allowed to post notices on utility poles. Offenders could face fines as high as $250.
Cars are for driving, not dressing
Cars are not for quick changes, at least not in Laurel Hollow. The village code prohibits people from using vehicles on any public highway or any place exposed to public view for the purpose of dressing or undressing. Anyone caught switching wardrobes inside their set of wheels will be subject to fines of up to $250 and jail time not to exceed 15 days.
Poop equals imprisonment?
Look, we're glad the Town of Oyster Bay doesn't ignore the issue of folks who don't clean up after their dogs. It's the punishment that's a little bit of a head-scratcher. Violators can face either a $25 fine or imprisonment. Um, $25 or imprisonment? That's quite the range!
Keep that picnic under wraps
Yogi Bear would have no luck in Village of Head-of-the-Harbor in Smithtown, where it is illegal to hold a picnic in public. Violating the law could land you in jail, depending on how the village court rules. The same article of the village code states that no one can create a bonfire in the middle of a public highway. Bummer.
No high rollers on Bingo Night.
If you're a Bingo Night high roller in Town of East Hampton, tough luck. Town law states that no one round of bingo can have a payout of more than $250. Furthermore, the prizes awarded over the course of a single "bingo event" can't be worth more than $1,000.
In other bingo laws, Town of Oyster Bay code says the game can't be played on Sunday, Christmas Day, Easter Sunday, or New Year's Eve. Bingo also can't be played in one place more than three times per week without a license.