Top 7 Halloween Pranks Gone Wrong
October 31, 2009 | Lists
When it comes to festive occasions on the calendar, Halloween holds a place in the hearts of many right behind Christmas – which for sheer volume of swag just can’t be beat – and ahead of Easter, which, in terms of sugared treats is a poor man’s Halloween. Today is the day when kids don cheap plastic masks* fastened on by a rubber band sure to snap and confirm to its youthful wearer that he or she does indeed have a big head.
(See Shark Guys’ exclusive on Halloween masks being put to nefarious uses by dumb criminals)
Pranks have been a part of the Halloween tradition ever since someone answered a doorbell on October 31, was greeted with “Trick or Treat”, and, not seeing a prostitute making house calls at eye level, turned his gaze downward to ankle-biters threatening vandalism if the candy wasn’t coughed up.
In a tense, post 9/11 world, rigging explosives up to your neighbor’s garden gnome tableaux, while once a sign of youthful verve and engineering aptitude can now result in your name being put on a list that will see you grounded – as in being refused when attempting to board a plane, not being delivered into a state of mental and emotional contentment.
When a Halloween prank goes off well, everybody has a good laugh and it very rarely makes the newspapers unless it’s something spectacular like convincing people the Martians are coming. Orson Welles these people are not. These are not the legendary ruses that will inspire with their ingenuity, and only made media reports (like all SharkGuy lists of this type this is based in fact, at least the version of it offered by newspapers) because of how badly they went wrong.
Despite our book, The Man Who Scared a Shark to Death, – being referred to as the Darwin Awards for drunks – and not only by us when trying to sell it at book fairs, it should be noted – we only included a few, special deaths in that one, such as a guy who ran errands for an entire day before noticing that his buddy with whom he had upended a city’s water tower worth of booze wasn’t napping in the back seat… or if he was, the snooze button had been hit for eternity. We don’t deal in death if we can avoid it and here we have excluded those pranks – frighteningly numerous – that resulted in the death of the perpetrator.
But then there is death by shame. Here are the Top 7 Halloween Pranks Gone Wrong!
A few years back a UK grocery store chain was criticized for selling Halloween-themed egg “fun packs”, which detractors said encouraged youngsters to egg people’s houses. But to us that was just crafty marketing acknowledging an off-label use, like if Viagra were to market directly to impotent college boozehounds. Egging is as basic and essential to Halloween prankery as toilet-papering and kicking someone’s carefully arranged jack-o-lantern display to gourd-like hell with a pair of steel-toes.
Four Virginia men, who were in their early 20s and thus too old by a decade to be doing anything with an egg other than cracking one into a hangover remedy, drove around town Halloween night, leaning out of their windows and hurling eggs at traffic and taking aim at two girls. The latter egging resulted in assault charges, the former serious charges of throwing a “missile” at a motor vehicle. While the amount of eggs thrown is in dispute – “If you believe what everyone said, it must have been a million… The air was full of eggs,” one of the men’s lawyers was quoted as saying. Despite nobody being injured in the incident, the men were each given two-year jail sentences. Two years! No yolking matter.
We said at the outset – four paragraphs ago – that we mostly don’t deal in death (We threw this out the window with a cherry bomb attached for animals – Click Here for a Top 10 list of Exploding Animals). But a shotgun wounding of a 14-year-old is another matter.
Last year, five teens went out a couple weeks before October 31 for the time-honored show of Halloween rascality that is toilet papering. Frowned on in these eco-friendly days, toilet-papering involves taking several rolls of toilet paper – hint, buy a jumbo pack for better value, but not one too large to be concealed in a backpack (other toilet-papering tips here [The Shark Guys accept no responsibility for anything, including their own actions and bar bills when they can avoid it]) – and unfurling them all over the homes, hedges, trees and arthritic dogs in your neighborhood. Nobody enjoys cleaning that up, but better that than having that for which toilet paper is typically used tossed at the window and most people when looking back at their own not exactly squeaky clean childhoods, don’t begrudge the youngsters a bit of fun on Halloween.
Then there is the – fortunately – rare reaction of guys like the one in this story. He woke up while the kids were in the middle of hurling the bog paper over his house in traditional Halloween fashion and to quote the sheriff’s department’s lieutenant on the scene, “Their intent was to TP the house; his intent was to come out shooting.” While a non-aggressive type may argue that a warning shot fired in the air might have done the job, the man fired THREE shots at the teens, and injured one of them. The injuries were not life-threatening, though we’re guessing the youngster who received them will not be out with the Downy this season.
We debated whether to include this one in our lists of Halloween pranks gone wrong. We’ll let you be the judge of whether we made the right choice. A 15-year-old in Pennsylvania, presumably having closed his family’s roadside fruit stand for the day, decided to chuck some eggs at a Pennsylvania Electric Co. substation for some Halloween fun. Some might question the entertainment value in this, but we’re not judging as we’ve been through Pennsylvania. Also, the result was pretty damned entertaining.
The second of the boy’s oval missiles hit the substation and the combination of egg splatter and rain resulted in a flash – one witness reported seeing a fireball – that knocked out power to 8,000 people (we’ve already slandered the great state of Pennsylvania too liberally here… so we won’t mention how 7,995 people failed to take notice).
The boy himself was treated for ringing ears and that’s why we count as a prank gone wrong because loud explosions like that can lead to tinnitus, a life-long ringing of the ears, and that is just not fun, ask William Shatner.
Halloween can be a bummer for certain adults – those too old to trick or treat who nobody sane would ever invite to a party. The prospect of answering the door and being greeted by so much festivity is enough to cause one to draw the blinds, turn off the lights and eat a Quaalude-filled lasagna to make it through to November 1.
A drunk 34-year-old Washington man decided to liven up Halloween night by donning a costume and – with a buddy, there is always a dopey buddy in these stories – scaring trick-or-treaters as they came to the door (just by yelling surprise or something, not with a jumpkick to the face or such like that.. wait for the violence).
One youngster was quick on the draw responding to the surprise with a blast of silly string he had at the ready. The enraged man leaped for the boy, shaking him violently. The youngster was able to break free, but the aggrieved host wouldn’t let it end there: he grabbed the boy’s bag of candy and refused to give it back when the youngster pleaded with him to do so. Because of incidents just like this, most people trick or treat in their immediate neighborhoods; the boy ran home, told his parents, and the beer-drunk man was arrested and possibly subjected to an unwelcome search for hidden candy down at the station house.
We’re both deeply suspicious of fraternities, peopled by those we wouldn’t drink with unless we were stuck with them on an ocean skiff and they were the only ones with fresh water… and then we’d really do some soul-searching to decide whether life is indeed so precious. Frat boys spend most of their time getting drunk and forming bonds that will last them through to the years when they’re draining the pension plans of their subordinates to feather a tropical nest. But sometimes they do pull off brilliant pranks. This isn’t one of them.
Members of MIT’s Phi Kappa Sigma fraternity are known as the “skulls” because their coat of arms features a skull and bones… and it should. A “Kapper” dressed in a Grim Reaper very nearly had the opportunity tell him that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. The student rigged a device that was meant to emit smoke and shoot out posters into a crowded classroom for a Halloween party that the fraternity was scheduled to host. He was evidently not on the dean’s engineering honor roll – the machine blew up, giving the student severe lacerations and causing the bomb squad to descend on campus and evacuate several buildings.
2. Partier Stops Chopping Spree:
The Bobcat Goldthwait-era of Police Academy aside, cops and hilarity do not often go together and the reason for that is made clear here. A partier arrived for a Halloween fete in the woods and was told by fellow partygoers that a man had been spotted in the woods, wearing a white mask, carrying an ax and chasing children around the neighborhood. Alarmed, and not having seen enough 80s horror films to realize something might be up with this story on Halloween, the man rushed back to his home and returned with a handgun.
He must have kept the fact that he was packing heat quiet until dogs began to bark and out of the woods emerged a man who matched the description, carrying an axe. But alas this was not the most obvious and unlikely murderer in the history of Halloween, but an off-duty police officer in on a Halloween prank.
Presumably the officer was still operating in the realm of make believe, when the partier told him he had a gun and would shoot if he took a step further. The axe-wielding officer took several steps further and was shot twice, though he survived the incident.
1. Kentucky Fried Faker:
Earlier this month a man who shot himself in the head on his balcony was left to rot slumped over in a chair in full sight of his neighbors who, apparently not being the say hello types, mistook his corpse for a Halloween decoration and went about their business. (And that was not the first time that a suicide victim has been dismissed as the product of someone whose Halloween ambitions went beyond carving the humble pumpkin).
With such ghastly sites being commonly mistaken for Halloween pranks, it’s no surprise that pranksters feel the need to pull off gags of a graphic enough nature to cause the makers of Saw to gasp and flutter their handkerchiefs before falling into a dead faint.
An employee at a chicken restaurant in Kentucky walked in to discover her employer sprawled out on the floor in a pool of blood. Little did she know as she ran screaming out of the restaurant in fear for her life and with the mental scarring at its freshest that the whole thing was a Halloween gag – her boss had arranged the entire scene.
The boss later said that he tried to call his employee on her cellphone to tell her that it was all a bit of Halloween ha-ha, but her phone was engaged – presumably as she was frantically dialing 9-1-1 to report the fact that her boss had been given the treatment usually reserved the chickens. The man was arrested on a charge related to causing a false alarm.