As a kid, this was one of my favorite days of the year! I could not wait to get to the kitchen for breakfast a see what my dad had up his sleeve for my mom! Each year, he was able to make her believe something crazy and I have to admit, he sometimes caught me too… We lived on the St-Lawrence River, so the water was often the scene of the crime; a lost whale going by, a submarine getting stuck, or seals on the wharf across from our yard! Each time, he had my mom looking out of binoculars! As I got older, we tried to prank eachother on the phone; asking for bail to get out of prison, getting married on a recent trip without telling him,… Man, I loved those mornings!
In honor of my dad, I scoop up on the net some pretty good pranks that have happened over the years and I share them here with you! Send me your best as well–I’d love to read about them!
1957: The BBC television program Panorama ran a famous hoax showing the Swiss harvesting spaghetti from trees. They had claimed that the despised pest the spaghetti weevil had been eradicated. A large number of people contacted the BBC wanting to know how to cultivate their own spaghetti trees.
1976: British astronomer Sir Patrick Moore told listeners of BBC Radio 2 that unique alignment of two planets would result in an upward gravitational pull making people lighter at precisely 9:47 a.m. that day. He invited his audience to jump in the air and experience “a strange floating sensation.” Dozens of listeners phoned in to say the experiment had worked.
1980: The BBC reported that Big Ben, in order to keep up with the times, was going digital. The announcement received a huge response from listeners shocked and angered by the proposed change. The BBC Japanese service also announced that the clock hands would be sold to the first four listeners to contact them. One Japanese seaman in the mid-Atlantic immediately radioed in a bid.
1989: On March 31, 1989 thousands of motorists driving on the highway outside London saw a flying saucer descending on their city. The saucer finally landed in a field on the outskirts of London where local residents immediately called the police. Soon the police arrived and one brave officer approached the craft with his truncheon extended before him. When a door in the craft popped open, and a small, silver-suited figure emerged, the policeman ran in the opposite direction!!! The saucer turned out to be a hot-air balloon that had been specially built to look like a UFO by Richard Branson, the 36-year-old chairman of Virgin Records. The stunt combined his passion for ballooning with his love of pranks. His plan was to land the craft in London’s Hyde Park on April 1. Unfortunately, the wind blew him off course, and he was forced to land a day early in the wrong location.
1994: An article in PC Computing magazine described a bill going through Congress that would make it illegal to use the internet while drunk, or to discuss sexual matters over a public network. The bill was supposedly numbered 040194 (i.e. 04/01/94), and the contact person was listed as Lirpa Sloof (April Fools backwards). The article said that the FBI was going to use the bill to tap the phone line of anyone who “uses or abuses alcohol” while accessing the internet. The article offered this explanation for the origin of the bill: “The moniker ‘Information Highway’ itself seems to be responsible for SB 040194… I know how silly this sounds, but Congress apparently thinks being drunk on a highway is bad no matter what kind of highway it is.” The article generated so many outraged phone calls to Congress that Senator Edward Kennedy’s office had to release an official denial of the rumor.
1996: The Taco Bell Corporation announced it had bought the Liberty Bell and was renaming it the Taco Liberty Bell. Hundreds of outraged citizens called the National Historic Park in Philadelphia where the bell was housed to express their anger. Their nerves were only calmed when Taco Bell revealed, a few hours later, that it was all a practical joke. The best line of the day came when White House press secretary Mike McCurry was asked about the sale. Thinking on his feet, he responded that the Lincoln Memorial had also been sold. It would now be known, he said, as the Ford Lincoln Mercury Memorial.