Pranks in Worthington and the Fools That Pulled Them

As the fourth month of the year rolls around, many mark its beginning with jokes, pranks and outright ridiculousness. April Fools' Day is an opportunity for people to get creative, and even sneaky, to have a laugh with friends or family. For this month's exhibit, we will take a look at the antics documented on Worthington Memory-- whether they happened on April Fools' Day or not!-- to celebrate this silliest of holidays.

To kick off our look at this foolish day, we turn to a commentary piece Dorothy Kraus submitted to the "Worthington News" in 2003, in which she relayed a history of April Fools' Day. She notes the occasion's potential roots in the calendar change that occurred in France in 1564 when the beginning of the year was moved from April 1 to January 1, thus labeling as "April fools" those who continued to mark the new year in April. April Fools' Day, she remarked, was her favorite holiday as there's no need for gifts or cards, just friendly fun by way of pranks carried out for the enjoyment of both the pranker and prankee. While she made a point to prank her loved ones yearly, she fondly remembered favorite pranks her mother pulled, such as hiding a circle of felt inside pancakes as they cooked, making them impossible to cut or chew.

Pranks are a staple of April Fools' tradition, but they have offered potential for year-around antics. One prank, implicating church members in fowl play, was the mysterious planting of plastic flamingos in the lawns of Worthington, Upper Arlington and Hilliard residences on cold mornings in 1997. The birds appeared with "ransom notes" promising the lawn ornaments' removal if homeowners donated to a mission trip fund. This lighthearted extortion attempt (code name Get The Flock Out), orchestrated by members of Dublin's First Community Church, was not intended to ruffle feathers, but to raise money for an upcoming trip to Mexico.

Many pranks, however, have not always been received as harmless fun. In 1998, a group of students toilet papered trees on the Thomas Worthington High School front lawn. The act, a back-to-school prank, attracted the ire of administrators who not only required the students to clean the grounds, but also considered disciplining them for vandalism. Another prank gone too far happened in December 1994 when plywood carolers were abducted from their seasonal spots on the Village Green. Three of the six life-size figures that stood on the Green were kidnapped and chauffeured around Columbus, where they posed with their captors at various landmarks. The men who admitted to taking the carolers claimed it was a prank, but were charged with petty theft.

Worthington residents of all ages have clowned around from time to time. Kids embrace their silly sides in Halloween costumes. Teens go bonkers during the library's bookish programs and let comedy rule the stage during high school plays. Adults get gussied up for costume parties, some even performing as actual clowns at parades and events like the 2003 Founders' Day festivities.

Other photos are just fun comedies of scale. A young child towers over the Graeter's Ice Cream shop while riding a tricycle during a Safety City event at which kids navigated a model version of Worthington. Another photograph that practically looks like a sight gag is the 1978 relocation of the Old Rectory building. Some 200 people turned out on July 7 to marvel at the comical sight of an entire house being moved down High Street on a flatbed truck, traveling from Hartford Street to its new home on New England Avenue at 1 am.

Whether part of April Fools' festivities or any-time-of-the-year shenanigans, Worthington's silly moments and mischievous antics make for an entertaining (and potentially toilet paper-laden) trip down memory lane.