Legends of April the First

Cunning and foolish April Fools’ pranks

Amongst all of the major holidays, from Christmas to Halloween, 4/1 remains the most niche and eccentric days of the year, a day of laughs and jokes that are excusable by the exclamation: “April fools’!” It is an impromptu holiday that does not imply a clear plan or follow some kind of set tradition, and thrives off the nuance every year may bring.

In history, some celebrations of the occasion have been legendary, outliving April 1st as the most notable pranks in history. Some of these antics have varied from painstakingly schemed plots to stories causing widespread confusion. In all situations, though, these tricks have never failed to catch victims. 

To Fake a Volcano Eruption 

The Eruption of Mount Edgecumbe–April Fool’s Day 1974 – The Sitka History Museum. (n.d.). Retrieved March 30, 2021

On the morning of April 1st,1974, one Alaskan town had a rude awakening to an erupting volcano. Mount Edgecumbe, a dormant volcano that last erupted over 4000 years ago, lies across a strait from the town Sitka, and on that morning, black smoke could be seen fluttering from the peak of the formation. In panic, town residents called the Coast Guard to investigate the smoke as a potential eruption. However, a helicopter flyby only resulted in the sighting of more smoke, and the words “APRIL FOOLS’” painted on the side of the mountain. Of all April Fools’ pranks, this may stand as a physically excruciating yet surprisingly successful prank.

Origins of Spaghetti

In 1957, the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) featured a segment, filming a family that specialized in farming a staple food in Europe: spaghetti. At the time of broadcast, spaghetti was not the well known food that it is today, and the news feature left many genuinely intrigued. As BBC reported that the strands of flour were harvested from trees, much to the chagrin of genuinely confused viewers, the BBC was inundated with bewildered calls regarding the truth of such a story.

When Penguins Fly

Continuing their history of April Fools’ day pranks, the BBC broadcasted a piece featuring a group of penguins who were capable of taking flight. The video included what seems to be a scientific researcher, walking amongst penguins explaining that these penguins were “unique.” Later, the camera panned through a group of penguins who seemed to begin running and float up into the air. To the unsuspecting viewer, the visual effects were surprisingly convincing, and the broadcast followed the penguins around the world, even having them touch down in a rainforest. 

Have an April Fools’ Story? 

We want to hear April Fools’ stories from our Long Reach community! Do you have a favorite April Fools’ Day memory to share? Email your story to [email protected] for an opportunity to get your story featured on the Lightning Flash