2015-04-01 / Editorials

April Fools’ Day Shenanigans

Playing April Fools’ Day pranks is a custom that has been around for centuries, according to some scholars, and the playing of harmless stunts on one’s friends is practiced nearly everywhere. Possible precursors are the Roman festival of Hilaria, the Indian festival, Holi, and the medieval Feast of Fools. A couple of decades ago, even we, at the Gazette, toyed with our dear readers when we put out a special April Fools’ Day edition, to the confusion of many.

Probably the most famous April Fools’ Day practical joke was played by the BBC in 1957, when they broadcast a film of Swiss farmers picking fresh spaghetti from “spaghetti trees.” The BBC was subsequently flooded with requests for information on obtaining these amazing plants by their credulous viewers.

Some tricks are more elaborate than others, some great ones were not intended as pranks, and were not even on April Fools’ Day, but boy were the people fooled! We are thinking of the broadcast in1938, here in America, when an adaptation of H. G. Wells’ novel, The War of the Worlds, directed and narrated by Orson Welles, was broadcast on the radio. Mass panic ensued, since many listeners tuned in after the program was identified as a dramatic work. Presented as a series of news bulletins, listeners became hysterical, thinking a Martian invasion of our planet was indeed in progress!

It is hard to imagine such a situation now. There is so much content online that every day seems like April Fools’ Day; and with readers and audiences getting savvier all the time, perhaps nothing can ever again have an effect like Welles’ radio play did.

With whatever hijinks you plan for today, we would like you all to have fun, have mercy on your friends, and enjoy the liveliness of the longer, sunny days ahead.

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