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April Fool's Day, 2001
LunarCorp. (2001) NPR's All Things Considered revealed that a California-based company, LunarCorp, had developed a laser powerful enough to project images on to the surface of the moon. It planned to use this to beam advertisements onto the moon, turning the earth's satellite into a giant billboard.
Supreme Court Dress Code. (2001) A special edition of the Denver Bar Association's newsletter, The Docket, described a new dress code adopted by the Colorado Supreme Court. Male attorneys would be required to wear blue blazers with a Colorado state seal displayed on the pocket, while female lawyers would have to wear plaid skirts. The Docket received five calls from lawyers concerned about this new dress code.
April 1st To Be National Holiday. (2001) Radio Russia reported that the Russian parliament was considering a proposal to declare April 1st a public holiday: "Telephone jokes, absurd tasks for managers, warnings that the power, light or heat is to be cut off and other practical jokes are much more extravagant then than on other days. As a result, expert analysis shows, industrial efficiency in Russia falls," the report explained. By declaring the day a national holiday, efficiency would be maintained.
Kencom Limited. (2001) The Sunday East African Standard in Kenya printed an advertisement and a back-page story profiling a new mobile phone service provider called Kencom Limited. The new mobile phones would come with built-in scratch cards, internet service, videocams, and TV screens. What's more, service would cost a low rate of only four shillings per minute. To make the service even more attractive, a coupon was offered with the enticement that the first 3,000 people to submit the coupon would receive free phones. By noon, over 5,000 entry forms had already been submitted to the East African Standard Town Office in Nairobi. Among the hopefuls dropping off coupons were said to be top military personnel, politicians, and businessmen.
Downloadable Money. (2001) Abbey National, a British bank, revealed an April Fool's Day joke that never came to fruition. It planned to offer its customers the ability to download and print money from their home computer. An Abbey National employee said, ""We were going to say that it would suit all those couch potatoes who don't want to go to the bank to get their money out. We would make available a system where you could download money from your personal computer and print it out on paper at home." However, the Bank of England, citing concerns about encouraging forgery, strongly advised Abbey National not to proceed with their joke.
Russian Hair-Restoring Well. (2001) Russian Public TV reported that a spring had been discovered in the Caucasus mountains with the ability to cure male baldness. "According to the latest statistics, the number of bald men in Adygeya has plummeted," the report noted. The news program showed "before" and "after" pictures of the man who had made the discovery. (The BBC perpetrated a similar April Fool's Day hoax in 1977.)
Subway Car Surfaces. (2001) Residents of Copenhagen who visited the square in front of the town hall were greeted by a strange sight. One of the subway cars from the city's new subway, which was under construction, appeared to have burst up through the pavement. The subway car actually was a retired vehicle from the Stockholm subway. It had been cut at an angle and loose bricks were placed around it, to give the illusion that it had crashed up from below.
The stunt was sponsored by Gevalia Coffee, whose advertisements had an ongoing theme of vehicles popping up in strange locations, with the tagline "Be ready for unexpected guests."
Hooters Coming Soon. (2001) In a field along route 66 near Glastonbury, Connecticut, a billboard appeared that read: "Coming Soon, Hooters." It bore the owl logo of the franchise, famous for its scantily clad waitresses, as well as a phone number. Local officials soon began receiving calls from residents worried that the down-home, family-friendly feel of the town was going to be ruined by the new franchise. The officials responded that, as far as they knew, Hooters had filed no application with the planning department. The next day the words "April Fools" appeared on the sign, which turned out to be the work of a local prankster, John Tuttle. From the Hartford Courant:
"Tuttle, a town resident and vice president for the East Coast division of Hillshire Farm, said the joke was months in the making. In the fall, he asked a friend with a sign business to create the sign in hopes of "riling the town up." The town was riled. Tuttle received more than 120 messages over the weekend on his business phone, the number given on the sign. The calls ranged from waitresses looking for work to contractors wanting to build the restaurant to a prominent real estate agent who promised to use his connections to push the project forward."
Millennium Wheel To Become Merry-Go-Round. (2001) 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 all over again."
The Return of Idi Amin. (2001) Tanzania's Sunday Observer reported there was panic in the town of Tabora when former Ugandan dictator Idi Amin was seen walking down the main street of the town dressed in a kilt. Accompanying him were an entourage of armed, semi-naked warriors, 37 of his children, and a member of the Saudi royal family. The Observer noted: "Unfortunately, because of the presence of the Saudi prince, nobody was allowed to photograph this unique whistle-stop visit." At the time, Amin was actually living in exile in Saudi Arabia. He had been deposed from power in 1979 by rebels backed by Tanzanian forces.
Berlin Sells Railway Station Names. (2001) The German Der Tagesspiegel reported that the City of Berlin planned to raise money by auctioning the naming rights of the city's railway stations to the highest bidders. The city hoped it could raise as much as DM5m per station in this way. There was also discussion of charging the descendants of the 19th century composer Richard Wagner retrospectively for the existing station at Richard Wagner Platz.
Darcey Bussell To Be Next Bond Woman. (2001) A newsletter posted on the official website of Darcey Bussell, the Principal Ballerina of the Royal Ballet, announced that Bussell would be starring as the next Bond woman opposite Pierce Brosnan. Filming would begin in August, with a title sequence being shot at the Royal Opera House. During this sequence she would wear a rubber catsuit — which an accompanying photo showed her modeling.
Bussell was pregnant at the time. However, she anticipated that she would have enough time after delivering her baby to get back into shape for the Bond role. This announcement was picked up by both the Sun and Evening Standard and reported as fact.
First Kazakh Woman In Space. (2001) Novoye Pokoleniye, a Kazakh newspaper, reported on Friday, March 30 that Dariga Nazarbayeva, the daughter of President Nursultan Nazarbayev, would become the first Kazakh woman to fly into space. Accompanying her would be her one-year-old daughter who was receiving special training to become the world's first child astronaut. Nazarbayeva was already something of a Kazakh celebrity because of her presidency of Khabar TV. Her mission in space would be to launch a new satellite TV channel, Khabar-3, which would transmit to "the most remote areas of the world where the Kazakh diaspora lives: in the USA, Mongolia, France, New Zealand and so on."
The paper also reported that only Kazakh cuisine would be served on the flight. In addition, "The research programme also envisages making several feminine space experiments such as wet cleaning in zero-gravity conditions, cleaning of portholes in open space, nail-varnishing and hair-dyeing in a vacuum. The time of narrow specialist-orientated research is gone and the epoch of space exploration for everyday-life purposes is coming. So, who else, if not a woman and housewife, is to make laboratory experiments here?"
Cybrary. (2001) The British Observer revealed an exciting new idea sweeping through the internet community — a "cybrary," or cyber-library. The idea, dreamed up by London dot.com entrepreneur Lee Peters, was to "store, on paper, all the books available on the net." Peters explained that he wanted to add a "tactile dynamic" to the internet experience. He prophesied that one day millions of people would be able to go "to a public building and handle the texts, creating for the first time a real physical interface." Peters admitted that storage space would be a problem, but he revealed that he was already in talks with a number of London councils which had recently closed their libraries who were willing to offer space to the venture.
Titanic Replica Visible From Cliffs. (2001) Southern FM radio in Brighton announced that a full-size replica of the Titanic (constructed by the AFD Construction company) would be visible from the cliffs at Beachy Head as it sailed along the Sussex Coast. Hundreds of people braved the windy, treacherous cliffs to catch a glimpse of the sight. Many drove from as far as 30 or 40 miles away. So many people showed up that the cliffs developed a crack from their weight and a few days later collapsed into the water. (Though by that time everyone was gone.) The radio station later apologised to those who had been deceived.
Sky Becoming Less Blue. (2001)