April Fool's Day Hoaxes Involving National Landmarks
Wisconsin State Capitol Collapses.
The Madison Capital-Times ran a picture on its front page showing the dome of the Wisconsin State Capitol collapsing. A headline announced, "Dome Topples Off Statehouse." The subhead read, "Officials Say Legislature Generated Too Much Hot Air." The image provoked strong public reaction and became one of the most notorious April Fool's Day photo hoaxes ever.
Giant Rabbit Attacks City Hall.
The Milwaukee Journal ran a front-page photo showing a giant rabbit attacking City Hall. April Fool's Day, that year, was on the same day as Easter.
Statue of Liberty seen from Europe.
The Berliner Illustrirte Zeitung ran a photo of the Statue of Liberty. The photo was supposedly taken from Europe by means of "infrared remote photography". The rocky islands visible in the foreground were England and Ireland.
Pineapple Juice Tower.
The Berliner Illustrirte Zeitung reported that Honolulu's famous pineapple-shaped water tower, which stood over the cannery of the Dole Food Co., was actually filled with pineapple juice, not water. The juice was supplied free of charge through a "special pipe network" to the homes of employees of the pineapple company, after six o'clock in the evening.
Stealing the Alamo.
The San Antonio Light revealed that a plot to move the Alamo from San Antonio to Dallas had been foiled at the last minute:
"Vigilance of patriotic San Antonians Wednesday was all that saved the historic Alamo for this city. Since Dallas was awarded main Centennial celebration, its citizens have been casting envious eyes on the shrine of Texas liberty. Early rising San Antonians today were astounded to find the Alamo had been loaded on trucks, preparatory to being taken bodily to Dallas for exhibition at the Centennial. Irate citizens and hastily summoned police halted the outrage and restored Alamo to its proper place."
Texas Heroes Monument Collapses.
"As shown in the picture above, part of the famed Rosenberg memorial to Texas heroes lies crashed onto the pavement at the intersection of 25th and Broadway, site of the monument. Puzzling part of the strange scene which greets the eyes of Galvestonians this morning is how the usually lofty lady of the laurel wreath managed to drop onto the base of the memorial when the supporting column was 'cut' from under her. Well, to be perfectly frank, the photographer was johnny-on-the-spot. By keeping up with the date and by 'super-imposing' parts of photographs, the above April 1 picture resulted. Just as an April Fool's picture, you know! To repeat — just an April Fool joke." [The Galveston
Paris All Dressed Up.
French fashion designer Jean Dessès used photomontages to dress Parisian landmarks in his gowns. (Top) The column in the Place Vendome wore a strapless gown draped with roses. (Bottom) In sight of the Eiffel Tower, a street lamp sported a softly tailored beige and brown wool suit and a brown felt hat.
Calgary city hall loses its top.
"One of the Herald's photographers, Jim Parker, who has since been banished to the north, wandered up to the editor's desk the other day and offered this picture for publication. The editor recognized it as the Calgary city hall but could see no news in it as somebody is usually blowing their top over something the city does or does not do." [The Calgary Herald - Apr 1, 1954]
Kansas University Memorial Tower Launched Into Orbit.
The Lawrence Daily Journal-World reported that a group of science students had launched Kansas University's World War II Memorial Tower into orbit:
"A group of Kansas University science students Tuesday night sneaked up on Mt. Oread, equipped the Memorial Campanile with rockets and as APRIL 1 dawned today they ran their count-down and sent the famed 'singing silo' of Lawrence zooming toward orbit. There was some question today, however, as to whether Ronald Barnes, KU carilloneur, was allowed to get out of the tower before it was launched from its Jayhawk pad."
Sydney Opera House Sinking.
Australia's This Day Tonight reported that the Sydney Opera House was sinking into the harbor. The report showed scuba divers examining the foundations and included interviews with concerned "experts".
Mole Antonelliana Shortened.
"Piu corta per qualche giorno," declared the front page of Turin's Gazzetta del Popolo newspaper — "Shorter version for a few days." An accompanying article explained that the pinnacle of the Mole Antonelliana, one of Turin's major landmarks, was going to be temporarily removed for restoration. A photograph showed a helicopter carrying it away.
King Kong Climbs CN Tower.
The Toronto Star printed on its front page a picture of King Kong hanging from the top of the CN Tower, which at the time was nearing completion. (It opened to the public in June 1976.) In a nod to the original movie, Carmen Nigro, who claimed to have played King Kong in the 1933 film (although a rubber model was used in most shots) was inside the ape costume.
Wordsworth’s Cottage Sold.
Radio Carlisle reported that Wordsworth’s Dove Cottage had been sold to an American and was being shipped to Arizona brick by brick.
Gasoline for Statue.
Radio Leeds reported that the city government had approved a plan to demolish the City Square and ship the Black Prince’s statue to an Arab buyer. In return, local citizens would receive a bargain price for gasoline—30 pence a gallon.
Big Ben Goes Digital.
The BBC's overseas service reported that Big Ben was going to be given a digital readout. The news elicited a huge response from listeners shocked and angry about the change. "Surprisingly, few people thought it was funny," admitted Tony Lightley of the overseas service.
The same news report also claimed that the clock hands would be given away to the first four listeners to contact the station. One Japanese seaman in the mid-Atlantic immediately radioed in, hoping to be among the lucky callers.
Eiffel Tower Moves.
Le Parisien newspaper reported that an agreement had been signed to take down the Eiffel Tower and move it to the new Euro Disney theme park being constructed east of Paris. Where the tower used to be, a 35,000-seat stadium would be built for the 1992 Olympic Games.
Cerne Abbas Giant Practices Safe Sex.
Pranksters supplied the UK's Cerne Abbas Giant with a condom in the form of a 32-foot plastic sheet. The famous gigantic figure is an ancient chalk-carving of a naked man carrying a club, located in the British countryside in Dorset . The figure is supposed to be a fertility god and is said to possess the power to make childless women pregnant. A landlady at a local hotel commented, "It was quite a shock, but now everyone is laughing about it. We have no idea who did it, but he is now well secured against AIDS."
Space Needle Collapses.
Seattle's "Almost Live" comedy show started their April 1 program with a news flash: the Seattle Space Needle had collapsed. A reporter presented the news, and then several shots of the Space Needle lying on its side in a pile of rubble were shown.
The show's host, John Keister, appeared after a commercial break and assured viewers the announcement had only been a joke. Nevertheless, many people were fooled. Staff at the Space Needle reported receiving over 700 calls from concerned viewers, and 911 lines jammed from the sudden rush of calls from people seeking more information.
Stonehenge To Move.
The Daily Mail reported that on account of the "gradual slowing of the earth's rotation" the heel stone at Stonehenge had become out of line with the sun on Midsummer's Day. As a consequence there were plans afoot to dismantle the monument and re-assemble it "on another site of similar prominence." However, where to re-assemble it had become the source of controversy. The Ancient Society of Cosmologists wanted to re-assemble it on Mt. Snowdon. However, a Tokyo consortium had offered 484 billion yen to move it to Japan, saying it would "enhance Japan's status as the Land of the Rising Sun when re-sited on top of sacred Mount Fuji."
Euro Disney Lenin.
The Irish Times reported that the Disney Corporation was negotiating with the Russian government to purchase the embalmed body of communist leader Vladimir Ilyich Lenin, which had been kept on display in Red Square since the leader's death. Disney wanted to move the body and the mausoleum to the new Euro Disney, where it would be given the "full Disney treatment." This would include displaying the body "under stroboscopic lights which will tone up the pallid face while excerpts from President Reagan's 'evil empire' speech will be played in quadrophonic sound." Lenin t-shirts would also be sold.
Over the years numerous statues of the Virgin Mary have been known to miraculously start weeping, but on 1 April 1995, an Italian statue of Lenin in the town of Cavriago joined the club. A huge crowd gathered to witness the milky white tears rolling down the statue's metal cheeks. The crowd remained for hours until the tears were eventually revealed to be a prank.
The Taco Liberty Bell.
The fast food chain Taco Bell took out a full page ad in the New York Times to announce that they were purchasing the Liberty Bell and renaming it the Taco Liberty Bell. Their reason for doing this was to "do their part to reduce the country's debt." The company pointed out that corporations had been adopting highways for years, and that Taco Bell was simply "going one step further by purchasing one of the country's greatest historic treasures."
Miller Beer announced it had struck an agreement with the town of Marfa, Texas to become the exclusive sponsor of the phenomenon known as the Marfa Mystery Lights. These are spherical lights which appear south of the town each evening, seeming to bounce around in the sky. They're variously rumored to be caused by ghosts, swamp gas, or uranium (though they're probably caused by the headlights from the nearby highway). Miller announced that under the terms of the agreement the Marfa Lights would be renamed the Miller Lites. The local paper, which was in on the joke, printed the news on its front page.
Millennium Wheel To Become Merry-Go-Round.
The Sunday Express reported that London's Millennium Wheel was to be lowered into a horizontal position and turned into a giant riverside merry-go-round for the summer.
"The 32 capsules will be refitted to the sides of the 450ft-wide frame so passengers can enter through the existing turnstiles. Inflatable lifeboats will be stored inside each capsule in case of any incident as the wheel turns just 12ft above the Thames...
We thought the idea might be technically impossible but the engineers told us the structure itself was very flexible and that as long as all the safety requirements were met, we could do it.
The British Tourist Authority added: "We are sure people will fall in love with it
Buckingham Palace For Rent.
Vacation rental agency Holidaylettings.co.uk posted a listing on its site for Buckingham Palace:
"This stunning accommodation offers deluxe living in the heart of England's capital city. A gated property with secure parking and armed guards, this is the perfect property to relax in complete luxury. Exquisitely furnished with many priceless antiques, royal collections and rare artefacts. 400 people work at the Palace to cater to your every need, including domestic servants, chefs, footmen, cleaners, plumbers, gardeners, chauffeurs, electricians, and two people who look after the 300 clocks."
Melbourne Cricket Grounds Renamed.
Australia's Herald Sun newspaper reported that a Chinese company, Mekong Industries, had submitted a multi-million dollar proposal to buy the naming rights to the Melbourne Cricket Grounds, renaming the stadium the Mekong Cricket Grounds.
The report played on fears that Asian companies were rapidly taking over Australian industries, especially in the mining sector, and provoked an angry response from readers. By midday, the story had attracted almost 200 angry comments such as “The Chinese corporate takeover of Australia has begun!” and “OZ Minerals, Rio Tinto, Fortescue Minerals, now the MCG. What next?” People suggested other names for the stadium, such as "Mainly Corporate Greed," "Mao's Cricket Ground" and "Melbourne Sports Ground (MSG)."
However, some did realize the story was a joke, noting that the spokeswoman's name was "April Fulton."
Playboy Invests in Rotorua.
The tourism board of Rotorua, New Zealand (a town famous for having a rotten egg smell caused by sulphur released from hot springs) ran full-page ads in The New Zealand Herald and The Dominion Post noting that scientists from Italy's University of Naples had recently discovered a positive link between the town's smell and male sexual arousal. This was true. But the ads went on to claim that, as a result, Playboy founder Hugh Hefner had decided to invest in Rotorua by converting the Rotorua Museum into his Holiday Mansion. Although some locals were unhappy, the long-term tourism benefits were expected to be huge.
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All text Copyright © 2014 by Alex Boese, except where otherwise indicated. All rights reserved.