April Fool’s Day is an OnMilwaukee tradition that began in 1999, the spring after we launched the site. It started as a bunch of weird inside jokes that most likely confused our small readership, but over the years, we managed to trick, entertain and annoy our city with our well-intentioned day of satire.
There was the time when a TV general manager screamed at us about our joke about a weather dog. There was the time when the City Attorney called me a "lowlife." There was the time when a different TV station ran a story, thinking that our fake story about Bastille Days changing names to reflect anti-French sentiment after the Iraq War – was real.
I mean, some of these insane ideas were pretty good ones. What parent wouldn't want a bar inside the Betty Brinn Children's Museum? (We still apologize, though, for the calls from thirsty parents.)
Times have changed. Our annual April Fool’s edition is now our biggest day each each year, and until 2020, we’ve taken pride in gently tricking our readers with absurd stories that live on our site for 24 hours, and 24 hours only.
But times have changed again, and this year, things don’t feel very funny at all.
We gave it a lot of thought, and came to the conclusion that during the coronavirus pandemic, dropping 35+ outrageous stories on a somehow-still-unsuspecting Milwaukee felt insensitive.
We’re still doing April Fool’s Day, but we’re telling you about it in advance. No political jokes, no cancelled event pranks, and certainly, no jokes about coronavirus.
It probably won’t be as funny, but it will still make you smile.
We’ll also share old April Fool’s stories that you might remember – it will be fun to activate years of archived stories that got us laughs, threats of lawsuits and assorted comments about how we’re not as funny as The Onion (we know).
It’s hard to keep our collective chins up throughout all of this, but we’re all in the same boat.
So try to laugh on April 1, even if the punchline is revealed in the lede. And wait for next year:
Andy is the president, publisher and founder of OnMilwaukee. He returned to Milwaukee in 1996 after living on the East Coast for nine years, where he wrote for The Dallas Morning News Washington Bureau and worked in the White House Office of Communications. He was also Associate Editor of The GW Hatchet, his college newspaper at The George Washington University.
Before launching OnMilwaukee.com in 1998 at age 23, he worked in public relations for two Milwaukee firms, most of the time daydreaming about starting his own publication.
Hobbies include running when he finds the time, fixing the rust on his '75 MGB, mowing the lawn at his cottage in the Northwoods, and making an annual pilgrimage to Phoenix for Brewers Spring Training.