Shoes hanging on electric lines or trees are seen recently all around the globe, especially in North America, Europe, Latin America and Europe. Even people are doing it without even knowing the significance of this act.
Among school students and children, they throw their or their friend’s footwear just to play among themselves.
The main theory or the main significant reason for this act is still quite unknown.
You will see millions of shoes or sneakers are hanging from power lines, telephone wires, trees and other places from Beijing to Beverly Hills.
After reading this article, you will know everything about this uncommon act thoroughly. And other unknown facts that you didn’t know before.
Trust me, there will be no more confusion and questions if you read this article till the end.
History Of Shoe Tossing
People of the Old West used to decorate their homes with cowboy boots. There is a possibility that from there, this theory came to light.
There is a military tradition to throw someone’s shoe over a power line to celebrate the end of basic training, moving to another upper post or other milestones.
The main origin of shoe tossing is lost in time. But you are probably doing this ever since you own a shoe or sneaker.
There is another origin that in English weddings, the guests used to throw shoes toward the newlyweds to wish them good fortune and the transference of the bride’s authority to the husband from her father.
There is an urban legend that throwing shoes over power lines mark the territory of gangs where they sell drugs. But there is no confirmed information about this myth.
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Why Are People Throwing Shoes On Power Lines?
You must have seen shoes hanging from the power lines near your house or neighborhood. It is very obvious not to pay any attention to it.
The common answer to this question is that it is a game of children to see who can hang their shoes up with the lowest number of attempts. But over the years, this act has become an act of art too.
In Brooklyn, there is an artist sibling duo who hung 500 pairs of woodcuts embellished with images of shoes from power lines, and they are sending the message that people are still using real things to decorate.
Let’s find out the main reasons behind shoes hanging from power lines:
Indication Of Drug Activity
One of the main reasons for shoes hanging from the power lines is drug deals in an area. It means drug deals will happen around the area where the shoes are hanging.
The obvious reason is that dealers can not knock on every door to sell their products.
Over the years, Chicago has been facing the issue of shoes clogging up electric lines. The city receives thousands of calls from residents about shoes hanging from power lines.
Recently the amount of complaints has decreased to 70%. City records show that in 2008 and 2009, officials received requests to remove 1000 pairs of shoes.
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Gang Territory Specification
Another reason for shoes over power lines is a mark of gang territory. From New York City, this idea got more known that gangs have their specific color and such colored shoes hung on lines means respective gang area.
The mayor of Los Angeles city launched a shoe removal program stating that he would not tolerate shoes hung on lines.
There are artists who think of shoe throwing as an art form. And it inspires them to create art that is something out of the box.
Creative people make artistic shoes and present them around the biggest cities like London, New York, and many more.
People of New York love the concept of throwing shoes and seeing them hanging from wires. There is a possibility that if you visit New York City, you will see one of the 2500 art shoe artists hung up.
Memorializing The Departure Of Loved Ones
It is unknown from when and where this tradition began, but you will still see this act nowadays.
In some cults or communities, they mourn the death of their young members and throw footwear over power lines, tree branches and around other places.
Among gang members, you will see this tradition. They do this to create an unofficial memorial in the location where they lost a member due to an unexpected accident.
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Celebration Of Life Milestone
You may find this funny how shoes can be a part of any celebration.
Some students throw sneakers to mark their milestone moments, like craving their names on trees to leave a part of their life there.
Teenagers tie the laces of the shoes and toss them away. They do this to memorialize the fact that they lost their virginity. It is said that the permanent loss of shoes is the same as their virginity.
As both can not get back when lost once.
Actually, shoefiti is known as something that brings the same influence in the neighborhood as graffiti.
But some artists show strong opposition to this idea. According to them, hanging shoes can not be the same and as artistic as their paints on the wall.
However, people are still tossing shoes on the power lines to show they were at that place at some point.
Despite opposition, this concept is spreading worldwide, and more and more people are adapting this act as a new tradition.
The Act Of Bullies
When your shoes are flung over lines, that can also mean the act of a drunk who thought tossing their shoe would be funny to reduce boredom.
In some cases, it is simply the act of a bully who throws the shoes so that the victim can not get them back and leave the place barefoot. They think that whenever the victim crosses that place, it will remind them of their defeat.
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What Should You Consider When Tossing Shoes On A Power Line?
There are so many reasons why you see shoes hanging from electric lines or even from tree branches.
However, if you are thinking of doing so or have done it previously, this act has its downside too.
Let’s talk about the facts that you should rethink when you are engaging in shoe-throwing:
Presenting A Wrong Idea
You can give people the wrong idea when you throw your sneakers. Tossing shoes over the lines is mainly known for negative reasons like gang work, gang territory, drug dealing and so on.
So, when you are throwing shoes in your area, someone might think that drug dealers live nearby. That can draw the attention of police and cause a scene.
Risk Of Shoe Rescue
If your shoes are hanging from power lines and you are thinking of getting them back, keep in mind that it is extremely risky.
Power lines use around 7200 volts of electric energy, which can cause the death of someone.
So when you are doing so, make sure to wear rubber gloves and stand over an elevated platform to rescue your sneakers. And you must make sure that on the day of your retrieving process, it hasn’t rained.
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Risk Of Hurting Passerby
If you are throwing shoes and your aim is not that good. You need to be extra careful.
Throwing shoes aimlessly can cause sudden accidents. Especially with big-sized boots, you can hurt anyone around you if it falls on them.
There are several reports about this problem. If the shoes fall on the head or shoulder, they can cause serious pain. Misaimed shoes can blind or choke people. So, you need to be cautious while tossing them over power lines.
Is Tossing Shoes Illegal?
There is no clear declaration that shoe tossing is illegal, but if it is acting as an act of assault, it may come under legal action.
It can also be an act of criminal activity depending on towards whom it is thrown.
If someone grows shoes at someone VIP or politically active figure, it is a crime for sure, and that person will be punished under the law.
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There are many assumptions and theories around the globe to justify shoes on power lines. These shoes can mean gang territory, a symbol of youngsters, or a memory of a dead person. It can be any of these.
Alternatively, they can have no meaning at all and be an act of a silly kid.
Still, the incident of shoe hanging is a mystery and a disappearing mystery for sure. There are so many positive and negative aspects and rumors about it.
But, there are chances that you will not see sneakers hanging on power lines or trees in the nearest future.
I am hoping that this whole discussion was helpful in clearing your assumptions about why shoes are hung on power lines. Follow these tips to clear up any confusion.
If you have previous encounters with throwing shoes, you are welcome to share your experience in the comment section below.