It’s common knowledge that you can’t believe anything you read on the Internet — which is problematic, since that’s where we get most of our information these days. And never is this more true than on April 1 each year, which is when we all assume permission to trick, hoax and otherwise mess with the minds of our friends and family for our own personal amusement.
But even before Al Gore invented the Internet, the Mile High City fell victim to assorted hoaxes and pranks, as this list will prove. Remember: We’re not laughing at you; we’re laughing with you.
Nearly as many weird conspiracy theories as planes have taken off at Denver International Airport, and it's home to the most controversial public art in Denver. But suspicious activities extend far beyond Blucifer. Last year, DIA poked fun at its own reputation for secret areas and governmental coverups by posting a “private link” to an article about “DIA’s Underground: The Elite Travel Experience.” Playing on the rumors of Illuminati, Masonic or double-secret black-ops' influence in constructing DIA, the article purported to celebrate twenty years of the airport as “cover project” and its role as “a private site for our ‘elite’ New World Order travelers who value privacy and exclusivity.” This prank was admirably done, for sure, but you just know that the tin-foil-hat crowd still use it as “evidence” on their various paranoiac websites, where they rail to us “sheeple” about what’s really going on in the world.
6. Colorado Rapids
In 2014, the Rapids announced on Facebook that in honor of Colorado’s history of Major League Soccer, they would wear the uniforms worn by the Caribou, who represented the state for the North American Soccer League back in 1978. The outfits sport not only fringe, but also a shade of brown that apparently only existed in the 1970s.
5. Featured Artist: Creed
CU Boulder’s Radio 1190, whose mission is to support the best in independent and underground music, in 2013 posted this on its Facebook page: “Listen to Radio 1190 for an all day celebration of Creed, our featured artist for today! Tune in with arms (and ears) wide open.” If you don’t understand why this is a joke, then a) you’ve never listened to Radio 1190, b) you don’t know who Creed is, and c) you’re seriously reconsidering your choice to read this article right now.
4. Rocky Mountain Oyster Stout
The great thing about this gut-churning prank is that it backfired in a pretty cool way. When Rocky Mountain Stout was introduced back in 2012, it was billed as a craft beer made from bull’s testicles, a concept the Wynkoop Brewing Co. called “a seminal moment” for the company at the time. So, yeah, hee hee hee, ball joke, we get it. And then suddenly the craft-beer world went sort of nuts (no pun intended), and it didn’t seem so funny anymore. So the Wynkoop went and just big fat did it. And then it entered the beer into the Great American Beer Festival, which just takes the joke to a whole new level.
3. Kenyon Martin’s SUV With Extra Butter
Back in 2010, Denver Nuggets power forward Kenyon Martin was in the middle of a game against the Portland Trailblazers when a former Nuggets ball boy got ahold of his car keys and, in the spirit of April Fool's, filled Martin’s Range Rover with popcorn. Funny, right? Well, yeah, until you figure that the oily popcorn sat in a car with a white interior and caused actual damage. And actual damage was exactly what Kenyon Martin was threatening — that and sitting out the playoffs, if no one ’fessed up. When the guilty party finally did come forward and offered to pay for the damages, all was well…until the Nuggets lost in the first round of the playoffs to the Jazz in six.
2. The KBPI Finger
In early 1998, when the Broncos were in the Super Bowl against the Packers (a team Denver would of course go on to beat), the morning-show DJs at KBPI put this taunting ad in a Green Bay newspaper. In the grand tradition of Mad magazine’s fold-ins, the innocuous-seeming ad turned into something a little more aggressive once you brought the “106.7” and the “KBPI” at the top of the page together. The pic included here is the already-folded image, but you can read Michael Roberts’s article reminiscing about the prank in full.
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1. The Great Wall Hoax
All the way back in 1899, four reporters for the then-four major Denver newspapers (the Denver Post, the Rocky Mountain News, the Denver Times and the Republican) were mourning a lack of newsworthy subjects one day — and they agreed to meet at the Cruise Room of the Oxford Hotel to just plain make something up. What they came up with was both dramatic and very far away, thus being tough (or at least slow) to disprove: that the Chinese government was planning to tear down huge chunks of the Great Wall for materials to make new roads, and that American companies were bidding for the job. The story was picked up by several papers nationwide, and even grew in the telling. But that was only the first hoax. The second came when this grand lie was linked to the Boxer Rebellion, when people suggested that the rumors about the Great Wall had in some way incited the violent uprising itself — which is sort of ironic, trying to teach a lesson about the damaging effect of dishonesty by lying, but there it is.
Clearly, the only lesson you can take away from this hoax history is that you and a couple of co-conspirators should head to the Cruise Room today.