It was 30 years ago that ice stopped water from flowing over Niagara’s falls NIAGARA FALLS — The night before, Michael Clarkson and his wife had been discussing how no one does anything exciting on April Fool’s Day anymore.
“I thought we needed a good laugh,” Clarkson said, 30 years after writing a news story that received international attention.
The Canadian Press picked up Clarkson’s piece about an ice jam blocking water from flowing over the falls, and treated it like an actual news story.
“It stayed that way for maybe 45 minutes,” he said.
Clarkson said the story was loaded with clues suggesting it was fake.
He said there was no way there was even enough ice above the falls to cause a blockage that year, and he quoted author J.D. Salinger, who he had recently interviewed, as a hydro worker discussing the jam.
“I wrote it as a joke, and I thought they’d catch it right away.”
The story came out April 1, which could have been another indication that it wasn’t real.
Clarkson said The Toronto Star was about to send photographers to the falls, but the hoax was realized in time.
He said in 1980, the newsroom was filled with reporters and editors working two jobs just to get by, and simply wanted to help alleviate some tension.
“If I hurt anybody, I regret it,” he said.
“I just thought everybody needed a laugh.”
Since writing the fake story, Clarkson went on to write “real stories” at multiple papers including The Toronto Star, and has written six books. Next Tuesday, he will launch his next book, The Secret Life of Glen Gould, in Toronto.
His story is a bit more elaborate than most other April Fool’s pranks.
Noelle Sinclair, a former radio host on 105.1 The River, and her co-host Mike Ryan had a bit of fun with listeners on April Fool’s Day in 2006.
The pair had a slew of local politicians and city officials lined up to invite listeners to the new Ikea, supposedly located on Chippawa Creek Rd.
Sinclair said listeners were given a special bonus code to receive discounts from Ikea, and even though the code was “w-e-g-o-t-c-h-a-a-p-r-i-l-f-o-o-l-s,” listeners were still calling the station for days after asking about the new store.
“Even though we spelled it out to them, most callers still thought it was legit and drove out to Chippawa with their code in hand, trying to find the store,” Sinclair said in an e-mail.
Mayor Ted Salci, historian Sherman Zavitz, and Coun. Jim Diodati all made guest appearances on the “live” newscast.
One local figure who didn’t make it out, though, was Kim Craitor, who didn’t want to be involved in the untruthful joke.
When the Niagara Falls MPP returned a call about April Fool’s Day pranks to The Niagara Falls Review, he tried introducing himself as Premier Dalton McGuinty.
Then he confessed it was the closest thing to an April Fool’s Day prank he has ever pulled.
“I’ve never done one,” he said. “I just don’t do those kinds of things.”
While Clarkson’s story went around the world, and Sinclair’s gag made it’s way around the city, some pranks don’t even leave the house.
Kat Avon’s five brothers had some fun with her and her sister last April Fool’s Day.
Avon said the boys collected “anything and everything gross in the fridge,” blended it together, and put it in her drink bottle.
She said her 20-year-old sister, Kaitlyn, got the worst of the deal though.
Kaitlyn didn’t notice her brothers had replaced her regular shampoo and hair mousse with a combination of food and hair dye.
“Her hair turned a very awful shade of green,” Avon said.
It took Kaitlyn about a week for her hair to return to it’s normal blonde colour.
Avon said April Fool’s Day has always been a “big thing” at her house, and this year she plans to stay out to avoid any nasty surprises in the morning.
This article was originally posted on The Welland Tribune