Have you noticed them before? While you're driving or walking through downtown Billings, you spot a pair of athletic shoes were flung over some powerlines. But why would someone toss a pair of kicks up there?

Was there a bully who stole some kid's new shoes and tossed them up there, is it a tribute to someone who died, or is someone trying to show this is their territory?

Credit: Johnny Vincent, Townsquare Media
Credit: Johnny Vincent, Townsquare Media

Here are some of the possible explanations why there are a pair of sneakers over the powerlines in downtown Billings:

It's a mythical town

In the 2003 Tim Burton movie 'Big Fish', residents threw their shoes over powerlines when entering the mythical town of Spectre, symbolizing the town is a place you never want to leave. In the movie, a character played by Steve Buschemi says "There is no softer ground than town", so residents leave their shoes up on a wire.

Credit: Walter Arnold via YouTube
Credit: Walter Arnold via YouTube

It's gang territory

Others may think throwing a pair of old running shoes over powerlines is related to gang activity, possibly identifying who controls that area, but according to Snopes there's no credible proof this reason is anything more than a legend.

It's where drugs are being sold

Shoe-tossing has also been known as shoefiti, according to Wikipedia, with other sources saying that throwing "sneakers" over powerlines is done to mark an area where illegal drugs are being sold.

It's where a murder has taken place, or will take place

In Australia there's a theory that dangling shoes means there was, or will be a murder in the area where shoes are hanging, according to the Daily Mail.

It's a makeshift memorial

According to Snopes, tossing shoes over the powerlines has also been known to be a way of remembering a friend or gang member who may have died in the area.

Credit: Johnny Vincent, Townsquare Media
Credit: Johnny Vincent, Townsquare Media

It's to celebrate a milestone

Another reason someone may have thrown sneakers over the powerlines in Billings is to celebrate a life milestone, like graduating, or finishing military basic training. According to FootFiles, some will "paint their military boots in festive colors and then toss them on power lines to commemorate the special moment."

In 2003, East Los Angeles had a massive neighborhood push to remove hundreds of pairs of shoes from powerlines, and in Chicago there were more than 1000 calls to remove shoes from powerlines in 2008 and 2009. But that number had dropped to around 100 a year in 2015, according to FootFiles.com.

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