Tuesday, January 05, 2021

Cautionary Tale: Hoaxing Bigfoot

A young California man decides to dress up in a gorilla suit and scare people hiking along a trail. He was eventually caught and charged. Cautionary, but amusing, tale.

I recently came across the following account:

"A had a good, although somewhat crazy, friend who was known for spectacular pranks throughout high school and beyond. After we graduated, my friend moved to live with his father in Northern California and would frequently hitchhike between there and his mom's house in Battle Ground.

One day he and his brother hatched a scheme to start a business where they'd do things like hold signs for businesses but while dressed as gorillas (in the 80s, before the sign waver thing we see now, businesses would hire clowns), so they both bought some rather cheap looking gorilla suits.

So, one day my friend called me from Cali to tell me he was hitchhiking up to Washington and to expect him in a couple of days. Fast forward to that weekend, and I get a call from a Clark County Sheriff's Deputy, who asked if I knew <my friend's name>, if he lived at my address (I lied and said yes) and that we should come to pick him up at Battle Ground Lake or he would be taken to jail. He refused to say why or to let me talk to my friend.

I was unable to drive yet, so my mom drove me to the park and we walked into the ranger station. My friend was sitting in a corner of the office and looked mortified and the ranger looked pissed. The Deputy seemed a little annoyed but somewhat amused.

Apparently my friend, when hitchhiking, decided to pack his gorilla costume - as one does - and his local ride told him they wanted to stop at Battle Ground Lake, so my friend decided to end the ride at the park and to call me later to come pick him up, as we lived only a few miles away.

He got bored and had the bright idea to go deep into the woods off-trail and change into the gorilla suit, naturally. He put it on and would jump out onto the trail in front of hikers and would walk around like a primate. What he didn't know was that there was a Boy Scouts event going on at the park, so a minor panic ran through the park that there was a large furry hominid running amok in the park. Some people contacted the resident ranger, who quickly called the Sheriff's department. A deputy was already in the area and incredulously replied and then descended upon the park.

My friend was unaware of any of this and continued this cycle of taking the costume off and pretending to search for the monster with other park attendees and then sneaking off and putting it on again and jumping out of the brush, waddling along in costume.

Finally someone braver than the ranger tackled him and he was hauled off to the ranger station by a small mob of parents.

It didn't help that when the Deputy relayed all of this to my mother and I. I laughed and my mother rolled her eyes, as she knew of my friend's previous shenanigans. The ranger was pissed - "He scared some little kids!" and the Deputy asked the ranger if he wanted to formally press charges, to which he stated that he did.

So we took my friend to my house and my mom scolded him, but was also amused - probably relieved that I wasn't involved.

My friend was charged with malicious mischief and interfering with an arrest for lying about his place of residence (he was terrified that they would think he was a vagrant because of his transient status living between his parents and two stated).

The county judge was somewhat amused and months later my friend's huge fine (something like $900 in late 80s dollars) was mostly suspended pending good behavior on my friend's part.

It sort of calmed my friend down, who had been playing crazy public pranks for many years. By weird coincidence, I believe he's a Bigfoot aficionado now, but I've sort of lost touch with him." R


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