Last week, The East County Observer followed in the tradition of our sister paper, The Longboat Observer, with our first April Fools’ Day spoof edition.
We were nervous about playing a trick on our readers and wondered if the fake stories on pages 1-3 would damage our credibility with our audience.
By your response, we had nothing to worry about.
The feedback we received was overwhelmingly positive — and cemented our plans to make this an annual edition out east.
Below is a sample of the responses we received. Enjoy!
+ Spoofs fool Ranch reader
When I read the automatic payment article for automatic payment of fines, I said these folks are nuts.
The cow patty story convinced me that someone was not playing with a full deck and Lakewood Ranch was going downhill fast.
The gentlemen’s club article nearly incited me to convince my neighbors to march on Town Hall with pitchforks and torches ablaze.
I was just about to turn to page four when dawn struck, and I realized I had been had.
Great fun and well done.
+ April Fools’ edition a delight
I so enjoyed being snookered!
Honestly, I poo-pooed the thought of the annexation — “that won’t fly.” And Dick at Denny’s?!? Nailed it with the Golden Melons.
What fun. Thanks.
+ Resident wants to be fooled again
I just had to let you know how awesome the April fools prank was. I just hope I forget about this so you can get me next year.
+ How did you keep it to just three pages?
I am rolling with laughter! Great stuff!
With all the great material our HOAs and community services office has given, I don’t know how you kept it to three pages!
+ Spoofs risky but brilliant
My husband was the first to read the interesting-yet-enough-to cause-an-uprising articles in this week’s Observer. You definitely had him going until page four.
But he was not kind enough to break the joke to me when I got up sometime after him, and he enjoyed observing my many machinations as I read about the cow dung, the sleazy gentlemen’s club and, of course, The Takeover!
That news was equivalent to about six cups of caffeinated coffee all at once!
I was envisioning the element of people coming in for a lap dance, graffiti on our buildings and crime. I was already concerned that the dung smell would reach our homes below State Road 70. I wanted to see what kind of necklaces Rex Jensen had made since I just recently went to the same shop for beading lessons!
I was ready to start protest marches.
I, for one, think your move was brilliant and risky! And yes, we could all use a laugh now and then, especially now. Thanks for jumpstarting my morning!
+ Laughter is the best medicine
I loved your April Fools’ East County Observer edition — I’m still laughing.
At first I thought this could be real, but as I read another article I knew something was up.
I thoroughly enjoyed this spoof on all of us in East County. It has been a wild ride for all of us out here! Thank you for this entertainment!
+ Edition fools Tara activist
This is Bill Pastori (12 Oaks Plaza Advisory Committee). I am writing to you because I’m about to strangle Mike Eng. Not because I don’t have a sense of humor nor because there weren’t lots of laughs over the Lakewood Ranch annexation article — many of which were at my expense.
I never got past the first page. I just took off for the clubhouse at Tara Golf and Country Club and ranted to everyone I came in contact with about how I predicted a couple of years ago that this could actually happen. I also scanned the front page and emailed it to my entire committee.
What really rankled me was that my wife, Mary, did read on and knew it was a joke — and didn’t tell me! She just let me take off on my rant while all the guys at the bridge and gin rummy games snickered under their breath at me until one of them finally broke down and told me to look at page four — at which point my mortification was complete.
It’s great to read something that, with all of today’s problems, is humorous and generates laughter — even though I fell for it and took the brunt of the local laughter.
+ Spoofs take April 1 crown
Flat out fantastic!
You folks did a great job at getting us good.
My husband was reading the “front page” to me while I was on the computer. I gave a big “No way!” yell at him and thank goodness he kept reading. Now, we’re both still laughing and have to say that was the best April Fools’ joke that’s been played on us ever.
Nancy and Tom Rohr
+ Jokes delight new Ranchers
I just wanted to say we loved this week’s paper!
We are new to Lakewood Ranch and have only lived here a couple months but greatly enjoy The Observer.
You couldn’t believe my eyes as I was reading all the stories this evening. I kept thinking, “Oh my goodness we just moved here and these would have been deal-breakers!”
Oddly enough, I kept going to page four to read the rest of the stories, but when I saw the jester picture assumed you all made a mistake and would return to page one to read a different story! Each story was more outlandish than the previous, and I still kept on reading!
I laughed for a good 20 minutes when I finally started reading page four and figured out what was going on. What a great idea!
Of course, I made sure my husband got tricked as well when he got home — it was too good a prank to pass up. I agree with the paper’s sentiment that in these tough times people can use a good laugh every once in a while.
Thank you for giving us new East County folks a great laugh today!
+ Golden Melons: Not a bad idea?
What a fabulous production!
I was completely fooled — especially by The Takeover (“I told you so”). And when I found out it was in jest, I read all the first four pages. Excellent choice of words and thoughts.
I’m keeping my eye on San Marco for those “Golden Melons.”
+ Observer fan approves of spoofs
Just wanted to thank you for the laugh with your April 1 edition.
It was a very nice way to start the day, and I didn’t even catch on until the second page.
Keep up the great work!
Observer fan since 2002
+ The Observer needs to grow up
What juvenile [expletive] you guys are.
So, to all small-minded children at The Observer Group: I had to write and tell you how much I enjoy seeing you embarrass yourselves with your idiotic April Fools’ edition.
A high school paper, sure. In college, maybe it’s funny a little. But a “real” media outlet? You just look like buffoons — even more than usual.
And beyond how stupid it is in principle, you guys are not very funny. You’re just not.
So, grow up. And I can hear you all saying, “Hey, lighten up out there, will ya?”
But it’s so [expletive] dumb that I don’t care what you say. This edition is even more moronic than all that “for the people” conservative [expletive] (CEO) Matt (Walsh) usually tries to jam down our throats!
Now, get back to publishing pictures of little bunnies, kids at the playground or ridiculous photos of rich people drinking wine, which is what you do sort of well, I guess!
Tom Cook, a loyal reader
+ ‘Melons’ story angers San Marco
Unfortunately, as amusing as it is, your article “Risque Business” has struck some nerves.
San Marco Plaza has struggled now for three years to gain customers with absolutely no support from Schroeder-Manatee Ranch and the Lakewood Ranch community. Our plaza certainly doesn’t need to be made into a joke. I don’t know how many people realize that we are all individual small businesses struggling here.
We are not a plaza, like Main Street, being run, marketed and supported by an organization. Not so funny that many of us are in jeopardy of losing our homes because our businesses here may not survive.
Be that as it may, I was not too disturbed by the article because there were other spoof articles with it. However, I have gotten calls from panicked customers and had to explain that it’s a spoof.
Anthony J. Vento,
managing partner, i tesori
San Marco Plaza