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Five pranks celebrating ‘April Fools Day’ that went absolutely wrong

As we all are aware, April Fools Day is an annual celebration commemorated on April 1 by playing practical jokes and spreading hoaxes. The jokes and their victims are called April fools.

For April Fool’s Day in 1980, Boston TV news producer, Homer Cilley, (it actually rhymes with “silly”) produced a television broadcast about a hill in Milton, Massachusetts, that had begun oozing lava and spewing flames. He included fake warnings from then-president Jimmy Carter and real footage from Mt. St. Helens eruptions that implied the Massachusetts volcano had fully erupted. “April Fool” read the card at the end of the segment, but hundreds of panicked citizens flooded law enforcement phone lines anyway. Cilley was promptly fired for failing to exercise “good news judgment” and breaching FCC regulations.

For April Fool’s in 2003, a clothing store employee in Columbus, Ohio, decided to call her boss and tell him that someone was robbing the store at gunpoint. Before she had time to call him back and confess to the prank, her boss had called the police. Four patrol cars rolled up to the store. The employee was arrested for inducing panic.

It certainly sounded ominous when Kansas City DJs Johnny Dare and Murphy Wells warned audiences in 2002 that their drinking water had been tested for high levels of “dihydrogen monoxide.” Well, turns out that dihydrogen monoxide is the chemical term for H2O, so technically what they said wasn’t a lie. More than 150 of their listeners called the water department to complain, causing one water official to describe the prank as a “terrorist act.”

The Manchester Police Department in the U.K. was just having a laugh in 2015 when they tweeted this not so funny offer: “Know someone in prison? You can get them released early by voting for them on here. The prisoners with the most votes also wins a holiday.” That didn’t go over so well with some of the parents whose children had been murdered by prisoners incarcerated in Manchester. One grieving father even called it “a slap in the face.”

Twenty-five year old Brandon Griffin was on a skiing vacation with his parents in 2012 when he decided to break the news to them: His girlfriend was pregnant, and they had decided to keep the baby. He broke down into tears as his mother comforted him, assuring Brandon that they’d always be there for him. But then he revealed the truth, it was just an April Fools’ gag, and his parents responded like any loving, compassionate caregivers would, by screaming “beat him up” and then slapping him senseless. The video went viral, with two million views on YouTube and counting.

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