For some, April Fools’ Day is the most annoying pseudo-holiday celebrated in the Western world. The pranks, the jokes, the forced humor—it all amounts to twenty-four hours of irritating tradition that can bother even the most relaxed of us.
The root of this frustration tends to be that – especially for people who can’t ever get into the most foolish day of the year — the idea of constructing and executing a great prank is something elusive. Practical jokes are fun, but only when they’re done right. The anxiety of not being able to pull one off can taint the whole day, but fear not: if your prank tanked this year, College Magazine is counting down the best collegiate April Fools’ jokes as inspiration for next year!
5. Auburn University Students Grease the Tracks
In anticipation of the big game against Georgia Tech during their 1896 season, it’s rumored that students at the University of Auburn greased the railroad tracks so well that the Georgia team had to get off the train and walk ten miles back into town the night before the game. The story’s veracity is contested, but whether or not it’s true, it tests both your imagination and school pride. Take it as a challenge to make your next April Fools’ prank one that shows spirit and creativity.
4. University of Wisconsin, Madison Student Government Party (Almost) Moves the Statue of Liberty
Back in 1979, the university’s jocular “Pail and Shovel” political party ran for student government with the promise of moving the New York City icon to the Midwest. They could have fooled everyone into thinking they had tried to make good on that part of their platform – had they not been seen in the middle of the night constructing a replica of Lady Liberty’s hand, torch and head on the iced-over surface of Lake Mendota to make it seem the icon had sunken in transport.
3. Cornell University Journalists Embarrasses Vice-President, most of the 1930 Republican Party
As you might expect from the Ivy Leaguers over at Cornell, their famous prank goes above and beyond just jokes. Two students attempted – and successfully managed – to satirize politics and political icons by making up a great Republican leader. The two students, writers for The Cornell Daily Sun, sent an invitation and requests for letters of praise for Hugo N. Frye for a celebration of his fictional 150th birthday. The practical joke reached all the way to then Vice-President Charles Curtis, whose letter in honor of the fake politician—and the prank that spawned it—caught the eye of the New York World and landed on the front page.
2. Hackers pretend MIT is the Happiest Place on Earth
1998 might still be considered the early days of the Internet, but that didn’t stop some clever MIT students from engaging in the university’s well-known tradition of practical jokes. On April Fools’ Day of that year, the MIT homepage was hacked and replaced with a link to a faux press release entitled, “Walt Disney Corporation to Acquire MIT for $6.9 Billion” and a new university logo, replacing the “I” in MIT with the famous curly script of the Walt Disney brand.
1. CALTECH Fiendish Fourteen Show America a Card Trick
Bitter that their football team wasn’t good enough to actually play in the annual Rose Bowl game, fourteen Caltech students, later known as the Fiendish Fourteen, pulled a prank for the ages in 1961. The Washington Huskies, one of the teams competing that year, often used a card stunt during their games that involved every fan in the stadium holding up a card that spelled out a message, like “G-O–H-U-S-K-I-E-S.” Knowing this, the Fiendish Fourteen snuck into the room of the head cheerleader and replaced the cards with ones that spelled out “C-A-L-T-E-C-H” and formed a picture of Caltech’s mascot. The Huskies were humiliated, and NBC broadcased the stunt on national television. Conveniently, this was the first time the event was broadcasted in Technicolor. Check it out below.