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April 1

March 28, 2012
Wetzel Chronicle

Breaking News: At approximately 12:03 a.m., a sea serpent was seen at the 38-year-old Hannibal Dam structure. A witness says he saw the creature rise up from the north pool and crawl over the top of the dam. It was estimated the creature was nearly 70 feet long and weighed 60 tons. The sea serpent lingered for over an hour below the dam. At one point it left the water to come onto Howard Jeffers drive.

Local emergency management teams were quick to respond to the unprecedented event. Early reports from local hospitals say there was no loss of life or even injuries. City authorities ask for calm as they assess the situation and try to determine the intent of the creature. The creature at one point was seen belching fire and smoke from it nostrils. The flames glowed red below the water's dark surface as the creature disappeared into the depths. It left a trail of steam rising from the river's surface. A picture taken on a cell phone by an unidentified jogger reportedly shows the sea serpent in the waters below the dam.

The Federal Government cannot confirm or deny the report of such a creature until a team of specialists can be sent into the area from Washington. They indicate it first must be identified as to whether it is an endangered species. At that point, they will know which agency will handle the report. There were also unconfirmed reports that the sea serpent came onto Main Street by the old ferry landing. It was observed looking in the window of West Virginia Northern Community College.

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The first of April worldwide is a day when we are subject to practical jokes and good humored hoaxes. It is not a national holiday, but a day when we are often the target of well meant fun. Some believe, All Fools Day, as known around the world, can be traced back as far as 536 BC in some mid-eastern countries. The Persian New Year falls on April 1 or 2 which is the 30th day of their new year. The day for some is called Sizdah Bedar and people of the region for centuries played jokes on each other that day.

We all have from time to time most likely been the target of a well intended practical joke. We sometimes do not even realize it until someone calls out, "April Fool". Then we laugh at being the subject of the fun. Others of us are not amused by the prank or the fun of the day.

One of the traits that set us aside from all other life on our planet is the ability to have fun in the form of a joke or prank. We can poke fun or fool those around us to create humor. True humor is found only in mankind and his ability to think.

You realized right away that my story of the sea serpent was a bit of foolery. Still your curiosity urged you to read on and find out what was the basis for this story. The picture of the mythical creature gave your mind a visual reference, while the words filled in the details. You reasoned in your three pound brain that surely this is some kind of a joke. But deep down you wanted to read on, wondering what was this all about. Being a well educated and smart person, you will never admit the fact you may have wondered if only for a brief moment about the validity of the story.

I went looking for some of the well known hoaxes and jokes that over the years have been perpetrated on people. Swiss farmers in 1957 were shown on British TV news harvesting a bumper crop of spaghetti from trees because of mild winter conditions. New York Mets fans were elated when it was reported the team had accrued a rookie pitcher whose fast ball was clocked at 168 miles an hour. Television viewers in Sweden were tricked in stretching nylon stockings over their black and white TV by being told it would produce a color picture. Hundreds of people reported they felt a floating sensation when they jumped into the air as Pluto passed behind Jupiter in 1976. They heard on the radio that the rare astronomical event would produce a momentary reduction in the earth's gravity by the planetary alignment. In 1998 a fast food chain ran an advertisement for a new left handed hamburger. Thousands of customers requested the new sandwich, while thousands of others wanted only the original. The larger the prank, the more believable it sometimes becomes to the public.

In 1937 on Halloween, Orson Wells narrated the War of the Worlds on radio. It is perhaps the most notable play on events many of us may have heard of. Even though it was pointed out several times to the radio listeners during the broadcast it was for entertainment, some people believed that aliens had landed and were attacking the earth. It may not have been an April Fool's joke, but it sure made people wonder at the power of the story's suggestion. The radio event made Orson Wells a household name.

I hope my story of the sea serpent gave you some sense of humor today. Humor and the ability to smile helps each of us to create a sense of well being by producing good endorphins in our bodies.

You now realize that the fire breathing creature was just a figment of my imagination. But, there are reports that a street vendor is selling t-shirts that say, "I Survived the Dragon on Main Street." I just wish I could figure out why a flying saucer was hovering over the dam at the moment I looked Thru the Lens.



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