The 5 Most Incredible Pranks Pulled With Major Landmarks

These stunts range from merely dickish to grossly illegal, and each is still admirable in its own way.
The 5 Most Incredible Pranks Pulled With Major Landmarks

Human nature can be summed up like this: for every iconic landmark, there are many people who aspire to draw dicks on it. It's one of the quickest paths to fame for an aspiring artist/vandal.

The below stunts range from merely dickish to grossly illegal, and each is still admirable in its own way:

KFC Puts a Giant Colonel Sanders Near Area 51

The 5 Most Incredible Pranks Pulled With Major Landmarks
via WorldWide Multicultural Research

When someone says "Kentucky Fried Chicken," what's the first thing that comes to your mind? That's right: aliens. At least, that's what KFC seems to think. Apparently, that guy talking to himself about UFOs in a fast food joint at 3 a.m. is such an important customer for the company that, back in 2006, KFC decided to advertise in the only place where they knew crazy people (and only crazy people) would be looking: the Nevada desert, right by Area 51.

The 5 Most Incredible Pranks Pulled With Major Landmarks
Google Earth

Rumors say the Double Down was invented by crashed Neptunians.

That's not Photoshop -- that's a satellite photo. One of the largest fast food establishments in the world opted to painstakingly re-create its corporate logo near an infamously secretive government complex, which is to say, in the middle of fucking nowhere. The point? Most likely to take advantage of the conspiracy theorists attempting to use Google Earth to spot all the government cover-ups happening in the area. It's a prime demographic for fast food. Also, as the press release said at the time, KFC wanted to be "the world's first brand visible from outer space" -- which must mean they've also mastered time travel, since Readymix cement had already done that 40 years earlier.

The 5 Most Incredible Pranks Pulled With Major Landmarks
Google Earth

And they were smart enough to put it in the Australian outback, where no one would fuck with it.

Creating the massive Sanders portrait required arranging about 65,000 red, black, white, and gray tiles over the course of six days, all for the benefit of people browsing Google Earth and presumably aliens passing by on spaceships ... although the latter have yet to radio back to confirm they've seen the logo (maybe they're Popeyes guys). And hey, bonus: KFC got a neat time-lapse video out of it!

Eight years later, if you enter the coordinates on Google Maps, there's no trace of the Colonel's mug. Not even some empty buckets littering the desert. Simple publicity stunt that faded away, or massive government cover-up? Only the super-intelligent, genetically modified chickens secretly running the company know.

Europe Loves Dressing Up Lenin Monuments

The 5 Most Incredible Pranks Pulled With Major Landmarks

Eastern Europe has a surprising number of statues of communist dynamo Vladimir Lenin still standing, considering it's been like 25 years since you would be put in front of a Soviet firing squad if you tried to take one down. Why would these cities display monuments to the merciless subjugator of their people in their town squares and parks and in front of their Starbucks? Probably just to do this:

The 5 Most Incredible Pranks Pulled With Major Landmarks
Anton Nakonechyy,, Life News

What the hell do they feed the pigeons over there?

Apparently, citizens of several countries have collectively decided that Lenin's drab wardrobe (which was about as varied as that of a Simpsons character) needs to be involuntarily upgraded with more festive offerings, including vibrant blouses, flashy coats, and pink polka dots. In Ukraine, pimping Lenin with the national colors has become a fun way to symbolize the struggle for independence, while others just want to shelter him from the weather by dressing him in traditional Ukrainian tunics:

The 5 Most Incredible Pranks Pulled With Major Landmarks
Online KPRU

Suddenly this went from "behold the glory of communism" to "LOOK. LOOK AT MY PONCHO."

However, as is often the case, it's easy for Slavic tomfoolery to give way to petty vandalism once vodka and bear meat enter the equation. In Saint Petersburg in 2009, a group of unknown individuals decided to pack the leader's once-proud ass with explosives -- whatever their intention was, the result looked like Lenin had a plate of borscht that disagreed with his intestines.

The 5 Most Incredible Pranks Pulled With Major Landmarks
via English-Russia

"Stalin! How could you!"

Perhaps jealous of all these shenanigans and sad because they didn't have a Lenin of their own to deface, a Polish town decided to cut out the middleman and erected a brand-new sculpture to commemorate the Bolshevik leader ... depicted pissing in public, li'l Vlad in hand.

The Independent

We'd blur out his dick, but our copy of Photoshop doesn't zoom in that far.

Of course, this isn't exclusively a European custom: one Czechoslovakian statue that was taken down after the fall of communism was brought to Seattle, where it's routinely redecorated for occasions like Christmas, Beatles-themed parades, and Gay Pride celebrations.

The 5 Most Incredible Pranks Pulled With Major Landmarks
Scott Beale

Please contribute to our "Move Lenin's Actual Corpse to Seattle Right Now" Kickstarter.

L.A. Man Keeps Fiddling With the Hollywood Sign

The 5 Most Incredible Pranks Pulled With Major Landmarks
via Melbourneer

On the morning of Jan. 1, 1976, just as California's more relaxed laws about marijuana came into effect for the first time, the over-caffeinated folks of Los Angeles took to the freeway and noticed something ... weird in the air. Or not exactly in the air, but still pretty high up above. See if you can spot it:

via Herb Garden

All Oscar statues suddenly started looking like Tommy Chong, too.

No, that "Hollyweed" sign wasn't a collective hallucination -- it was the work of Danny Finegood, best known as the man who kept making L.A.'s most famous landmark his bitch. It all started when, armed with a few friends and some tailored plastic sheeting, the 21-year-old art student set about turning the Hollywood sign into a giant pot joke for a class project, which of course earned him an A (for "Acapulco Gold"). Finegood had found his calling: on the next Easter weekend, he used his magic drapes to cover one of the L's in the sign, and L.A. woke up with a big "Holywood" awkwardly staring at its face. The stunt was repeated in 1987 in honor of an upcoming papal visit.

Though it's easy to picture Finegood as some giggling Adam West Batman villain, he actually saw himself as an "environmental artist" and wasn't afraid to use his personal canvas to make political statements. In the middle of the Iran-Contra hearings, he commented on the media frenzy around Oliver North by once again vanda- sorry, environmental artisting the sign to make it say "Ollywood."

via Wiki Commons

For those of you too young to remember, Iran-Contra was a scandal that involved
the sale of the Konami Code to the Ayatollah.

Finegood's masterpiece was probably when he somehow managed to change the letters in "Hollywood" into "Oil War" in 1990 to protest the Gulf War. This time, however, the pissed-off authorities ripped his work down well before sunrise, robbing the city residents of a chance to misinterpret the wordplay as an invitation to a Super Soaker fight in the La Brea area. Although Finegood retired from the giant-letter-molesting game after that, along the way he inspired others to mess with the sign -- such as supporters of '90s presidential candidate Ross Perot, who assaulted Angelenos with this terrifying mental image:

The 5 Most Incredible Pranks Pulled With Major Landmarks

Bill Clinton was furious that someone stole his idea.

The 5 Most Incredible Pranks Pulled With Major Landmarks

Sketch Show Fakes the Space Needle's Collapse, Seattle Freaks Out

uning MLE
King TV

Seattle-based sketch show Almost Live! is known for two things: A) turning Bill Nye the regular guy into Bill Nye the Science Guy, and B) causing mass panic that time they toppled the Space Needle for a sketch. Sorta puts SNL's big Ashlee Simpson lip-synching controversy in perspective.

Thinkstock/Stockbyte/Getty Images

The panic was less about the dead and more about the fact that without it,
Seattle is basically Pittsburgh.

When they noticed they were doing a show on April 1, 1989, the Almost Live! writers decided to open with a "Special Report" in which a straight-faced newscaster announced that the Space Needle had just collapsed. Although the fake images looked pretty believable (mainly because '80s TVs didn't have great resolution and were way smaller in general), tipping off the fact that this was an April Fool's Day gag was the phrase "APRIL FOOLS DAY" prominently displayed atop the screen in large, easily visible letters. Also, the fact that anyone in the city could probably look out the window at any time to verify that Seattle's dick was still standing proud.

King TV

Unless you were already in the Needle, in which case you were right to freak out.

So the Needle's destruction was a joke -- but the panic, unfortunately, was real. As soon as the short, fake segment aired, the city of Seattle collectively lost its shit. The ensuing avalanche of frantic 911 calls effectively shut down emergency services, and a team of doctors was dispatched to the site to offer aid. The station was also swamped by distraught callers who had feared their family members were among the rubble, despite the fact that the "newscaster" specifically said everyone was fine (presumably they thought that was the April Fool's joke).

1.Lit ara ning
King TV

They probably figured the Needle looked blurry to censor all the blood.

Once they realized they'd been duped, the station, the emergency departments, and pretty much everyone in Seattle were pissed at the guys who temporarily shut down their city. They were allowed to keep their jobs, though, since most residents quickly forgot about the stunt when a new vegan doughnut shop opened up. Remember, this was pre-9/11, so collapsing buildings could still be considered hilarious comedy; if the same prank happened today, it would probably result in the invasion of at least three foreign countries.

Canadian Students Keep Hanging VW Bugs From Bridges

The 5 Most Incredible Pranks Pulled With Major Landmarks
Popular Science

Cops in San Francisco are pretty used to dealing with tragedy when it comes to the Golden Gate Bridge, so when they were called there one morning in 2001, they probably expected the worst. We can only imagine the relief they felt when they saw somebody had simply dangled the empty shell of a Volkswagen Bug off the side of the bridge ... followed by a resounding, "Wait, what?"

The 5 Most Incredible Pranks Pulled With Major Landmarks
Craig Lee/San Francisco Chronicle

The Germans have a word for this exact feeling.

During the dead of night, some Canadian engineering students laid almost 90 feet of cables under the bridge, latched them to the VW (which they brought from Canada in a van), and lowered the thing over the side of the span. They then sped off back to the land of Celine Dion and faxed the San Francisco media a press release taking responsibility for the prank, which resulted in hours of held up traffic and a crap load of extremely confused drivers (and fish, since the car eventually ended up being dropped into the water by the cops).

Shit, you'd think those kids had been doing this for 20 years -- and in fact, they had. Students at the University of British Columbia have been dangling VWs from bridges since the early '80s as a way to show off their mad engineering skillz. Also, to brag about the fact that Canadian bridges are so sturdy that you can pull this sort of shit on them and they usually won't collapse.

The 5 Most Incredible Pranks Pulled With Major Landmarks
Popular Science

The E isn't for "engineering"; it's for "Eh?"

In the case of the infamous 2008 class, however, the only thing they got to show off was how to botch a prank, drop a car, and get arrested. After that embarrassing incident, they stayed quiet for a few years until the tradition returned in 2014 ... with a small twist. This time, they traded the bridges for a clock tower, where at least they won't be disrupting any traffic.

The 5 Most Incredible Pranks Pulled With Major Landmarks
Global BC

Just trying to flash back to 1985.

Justin is writing a free horror novel set in the Chesapeake Bay here. Read more from him at his site Business Handshakes.

For more ballsy jokes, check out The 5 Most Misguided April Fools' Pranks of All Time and The 7 Ballsiest Pranks You Won't Believe Actually Worked.

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