Name that City! — April 1, 2021

It’s April Fool’s Day and that means pranksters putting their talents to use. In honor of the day, this week’s trivia revolves around some of the best pranks in the history of the U.S. We’ll give you the prank and you match it up to the perpetrator and the flyover city he was from.

Here’s a review of the questions:

  1. In 1938, an episode of the American radio drama anthology series The Mercury Theatre on the Air simulated a live news cast of the first Martian spacecraft landing. Who was the perpetrator and where was he from?
  2. In 1959, this trickster conducted his most elaborate hoax on the Today Show. He created a group called the Society for Indecency to Naked Animals, the goal of which was to clothe naked animals. Who was the man and what city did he hail from?
  3. In 1978, in what could be one of the best college pranks of all time, two students launched a campaign to take over the student council by promising to get the Statue of Liberty moved from NYC to this city. What city and who were the guys?

And here  are the answers:

  1. Orson Welles, Kenosha, WI—The actual broadcasting time of the program, which was developed from the H.G. Wells’ novel The War of the Worlds, only lasted 60 minutes. But it tricked many of its listeners into believing that a Martian invasion was actually taking place due to the “breaking news” style of storytelling employed in the first half of the show. A widespread panic ensued. Orson Welles, who was only 23 at the time, soon went on to to direct and star in Citizen Kane.
  2. Alan Abel, Zanesville, OH—Abel, who graduated from OSU with a degree in education, was known for his pranks but this one was a doozy. The tagline of the made-up society was “A nude horse is a rude horse.” It began as a satire but sympathizers offering unsolicited contributions (always returned), citizen summonses for walking naked dogs, and sewing patterns for pet clothes. Walter Cronkite was the guy who busted the prank when he recognized the “official spokesperson” as Buck Henry. You can read an interview with Abel and Henry here.
  3. Leon Varjian and James Mallon, Madison WI—No one really took the duo seriously until people saw the gigantic green head and glowing torch of Lady Liberty rising out of the frozen Lake Mendota. The guys told everyone that they’d dropped the statue when trying to bring it in by helicopter. They’d actually built it out of wire, papier mache, and plywood then hauled it to the lake. Vandals later set fire to her, but the next winter she was rebuilt out of Styrofoam and chicken wire.

Thanks for playing!