Dan's Papers—the Hamptons' weekly which chronicles the goings on about town of the ritzy East Coast vacation spot—celebrates its 50th anniversary this month, honoring a legacy of publishing hard-hitting reportage, intimate celebrity profiles, and a number of highly memorable hoaxes. The first prank in 1963 that founding editor Dan Rattiner inflicted on his unsuspecting readers was actually an earnest mistake. After having incorrectly printed the timetable of trains in the paper, he received a call from the stationmaster. "He said, 'There's a crowd of people down here, waiting for a train that doesn't exist,'" recalls Dan. "It made me realize that I could do things that would get the whole town talking about us." Now the Hoaxer of the Hamptons walks us through 10 of his favorite printed pranks.
Dan's Papers' Top 10 Hamptons Hoaxes
From faux Sarah Palin sightings to bullshit shark attacks, the founding editor of Dan's Papers breaks down his favorite "gotcha" moments.
Loch Ness in the Hamptons (1972)
"I'd been here about 10 years when I was in the woods with a friend, walking down an abandoned railroad bed. I came upon one of the most magnificent ponds I'd ever seen between Bridgehampton and Sag Harbor. I thought: there ought to be a monster in that pond. So I wrote this whole story about the monster and tied it together with some of the local history. I said that during World War II, a unit of the army was camped on the side of the pond in the middle of the night. The monster came up out of the pond and they opened this great fusillade of machine gun fire on it. Then I wrote that there was a group of students from St. John's University in New York, out camping by the pond, waiting for the monster to appear. The next thing I know, after the paper came out, I got a call from one of the news anchors—Jim Jensen, who was the anchor for WCBS—screaming at me on the phone. They had sent a helicopter to come out to the pond and interview these students who were waiting. And of course, there weren't any kids."