Clare County Review & Marion Press

Pat’s Bits and Pieces: Happy April Fool’s Day!

Since today is April 1st, I’ve had a little fun looking up some famous April Fool’s jokes on the Internet.
According to, this just for fun holiday began in the 1500s when the Gregorian calendar took over from the Julian.
Since the Julian calendar began April 1, those who forgot the change and attempted to celebrate the New Year on April 1 were dubbed “April Fools.”
Another believed origin of the day was the arrival of spring, when nature “fools” mankind with fickle weather, according to Encyclopedia Britannica. Another theory is that it has something to do with the Vernal Equinox and some believe it relates to the Romans’ end-of-winter celebration.
Whatever the real origin, now it is tradition to pull jokes on friends and family on this famous day, although sometimes the jokes “get away from us” and might even come back to haunt us.
One example? The famous April 1 column by our own former columnist Richard Allen that claimed the Clare Kiwanis, Rotary Club and Lion’s Club had all agreed to raise their dues by $10 annually to fund an annual “Outlaw Biker’s Gangs” event in Clare and provide beer for all the riders. That one prompted a real “jam-up” of the Review’s two phone lines that lasted for days, and also brought on a lot of letters to the editor protesting the project. We paid for that one for weeks…
Probably the best media-generated prank in history was on the 1957 BBC’s Panorama program, which opened with a line about Spring coming early that year and prompting the “spaghetti harvest” in Switzerland.
People are always gullible and this one had the BBC switchboard jammed with inquiries like where viewers could go to watch the harvest and if they could buy spaghetti plants to grow at home. That one prompted Panorama producer Michael Peacock to make this helpful hint that many had great results by planting a “small tin of spaghetti in tomato sauce…”
In 1976, British astronomer Patrick Moore told listeners the alignments of two planets would cause people to be “lighter” at exactly 9:47 a.m. and encouraged them to “jump in the air and experience a strange floating sensation.” In just minutes dozens phoned in to say the experiment worked!
April 1, 1979, London’s Capital Radio announced the British summertime had caused 48 hours to be gained by the calendar. To compensate, they said April 5 and April 12 would be cancelled to “make things come out right.” They were swamped with calls from people with birthdays and anniversaries on those days.
Humorists in the U.S. aren’t far behind.
In 1987, a newspaper in Tennessee ran an article about the chic new waterproof attire from European clothing designers called “Le Sac Pourri,” (otherwise known as plastic garbage bags). Readers were told that the new fashion should be accessorized with expensive jewelry or the look would “lose its impact.”
On April 1 in 1996, Taco Bell Corporation announced the purchase of the Liberty Bell from the federal government. They said it would be renamed the “Taco Liberty Bell,” which outraged many citizens who contacted the National Historic Park in Philadelphia where the bell is located. Reportedly answering an inquiry about the sale, then White House Secretary Mike McCurry announced that the Lincoln Memorial had also been sold and would be renamed the “Ford Lincoln Mercury Memorial”…
In 1998, Burger King got in the April Fool’s Day fun when the company announced the development of an all new “left-handed Whopper.” They said the re-engineered sandwich had the same ingredients but all were rotated 180 degrees so topping wouldn’t squish out on the right side of the bun. Thousands of customers requested the new sandwich, while others asked if a right-handed version was also available…
In 2003, Australia got in on the fun when newspapers announced an end to parking hassles with the development of “vertical parking lots” on the sides of buildings…
Whatever you have planned to celebrate this mini-holiday, make it fun and keep it harmless.
And remember, Mother Nature is the biggest joker of all…she says it’s spring. In Michigan?
April Fools…

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