Not a whale! The Nantucket Sea Serpent of 1937
December 18, 2018 8:54 AM   Subscribe

A SEA MONSTER: Bill Manville says he saw one off Nantucket. Insists he was not dreaming. Hopes it appears again to verify his story. Thus began the 1937 Nantucket Sea Monster Scare, complete with additional sightings, huge footprints, and lots of media coverage. Except it was all a hoax, created by local artist and puppeteer, Tony Sarg, to promote a new, huge rubber balloon creature, which would appear in the Macy's Thanksgiving Parade that year. Unlike some other publicity stunts, the media was in on it, presenting fiction as fact. [via The Nantucket Sea Monster: A Fake News Story, an educational tale from Mims House; preview on Google Books]
posted by filthy light thief (6 comments total) 14 users marked this as a favorite
But do they know about the Staten Island Ferry Octopus Disaster?
posted by blaneyphoto at 12:33 PM on December 18, 2018 [1 favorite]

Nothing new under the sun. In 1674 Cornelius Meyer discovered the remains of dragon in the marshes near Rome. He wrote the matter up and included an engraving of same in one of his scientific books. The curious were able to visit the reconstructed bones and straggly bits hanging off the skeleton (which also presented as an engraving).

Modern science takes a dim view of the Dutchman's efforts.
posted by BWA at 1:33 PM on December 18, 2018 [1 favorite]

Unlike some other publicity stunts, the media was in on it, presenting fiction as fact.

OMFG! Srsly? Is just everything these days about the trump presidency?!
posted by sexyrobot at 4:51 PM on December 18, 2018

Srsly tho that is pretty cool...any idea how many years it was in the macy's parade and did it kill anybody? Also why doesn't the macy's thanksgiving parade wiki have a body count on each balloon? Because that's important information. IIRC, Garfield has killed I think 3 people and Underdog the most with like 6. (usually from popping on lampposts in the wind and smothering people)
posted by sexyrobot at 4:56 PM on December 18, 2018

Ok...turns out nobody has died, but this list of top 10 macy's thanksgiving parade accidents says there was one in the first parade in 1927 when "Felix the Cat became tangled in telephone wires and caught on fire." Holy shit! That must have been terrifying >:0 Also, (Jesus Christ!,) this article says "In the early years, Macy's released the balloons and challenged spectators to catch them for reward money. In 1932, handlers released a 60-foot cat balloon, which was spotted by an aviation student during flying lessons. The student decided to ram the plane into the cat's neck for some reason, and the plane plummeted to earth. Her instructor took control and saved them both, but handlers stopped releasing balloons after the incident." Soo...wait...this. lady...was ..taking a flying lesson through Manhattan...during a balloon parade... ?
posted by sexyrobot at 5:30 PM on December 18, 2018 [2 favorites]

So the Nantucket Sea Monster, whose name is Morton, by the way, which you failed to mention, would have started in the parade 5 years after the airplane accident. Sorry for the derail. Context.
posted by sexyrobot at 5:35 PM on December 18, 2018 [1 favorite]

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