April fools gag hooks many | TheUnion.com

April fools gag hooks many

John HartAs a joke, Eric Gibbons bolted a tray of fake McDonald's food to his van's roof and drove around town Monday.
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Have we all forgotten what Monday was?

It seems people looking for a free lunch who passed by Eric Gibbons’ Dodge Caravan certainly did.

The semi-retired prankster brazenly drove his family vehicle through shopping center parking lots, down Nevada City Highway, on the Golden Center Freeway, even past a Carl’s Jr. drive-through window with a tray filled with two Big Macs, two large orders of fries and a large drink atop his minivan for most of the day Monday.

At least that’s what hundreds of duped onlookers, motorists, pedestrians and even a dumbfounded-but-starving California Highway Patrol officer thought.

It seemed to be the tastiest, if cruelest April Fools Day joke Gibbons could think of: take a Taco Bell tray, attach it to the roof of his car with $4 suction cups, then bolt with sheet metal screws the two empty hamburger boxes, drink cup filled with goo and vacant fry holders to the tray – and let the laughs roll.

As Gibbons drove, son Shawn Gibbons and friend Justin Robinson recorded the scene for posterity.

Leaving The Union office, Dad steered the Caravan into Glenbrook Plaza.

Immediately, folks whistled and shouted – and the “Candid Camera”-like spoof was on.

Del Lunde of Alta Sierra whistled to the van as he walked to his car.

“I thought that someone was pretty messed up,” he said after learning that the lunch was actually in Gibbons’ stomach and not on the roof of his car. “I hate to see somebody lose their lunch.”

Gibbons and his passengers almost did, trying to contain their laughter.

Within seconds, another hungry soul in the same parking lot pointed at the van in horror.

As they left the plaza and headed down Brunswick, people craned their necks and banged on windows, honking their horns in amazement. These crazy people were actually letting Ray Kroc’s legacy go to waste!

As the van rolled into – gasp! – the McDonald’s lot, Shawn Gibbons and Robinson recorded reactions with a video camera and a clicker Robinson used to measure just how many people gasped at the movable feast.

Denis Golemis of Rocklin whistled at the van in the McDonald’s parking lot.

“I was just trying to be nice until I ran into you nasty people,” Golemis said upon learning of the prank.

As they drove through Fowler Center, a few people actually winked – as if they, too, were in on the inside joke.

Most, however, just couldn’t fathom how anyone could forget four all-beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles and onions on six sesame seed buns atop their car.

On Broad Street in Nevada City, the car trolled as shouts of “Hey, hey, hey,” trailed the vehicle.

“The object is to feign oblivion, and that’s really hard to do. It’s April Fool’s Day, and you don’t see enough of that fun stuff. We’re just trying to wake people up,” said Eric Gibbons, a former Grass Valley Group employee and owner of a local car wash.

Scott Medenwald of Grass Valley shouted at the van as it crossed Broad and Pine streets.

“You guys must be bored today,” he said after learning he wouldn’t be eating a free lunch.

“I can envision my husband doing something like that,” his wife, Bonnie, said.

Nearby, Rob Lewis was nonplused.

“I was thinking, you guys drove all the way up from Grass Valley. I can’t believe how long the food stayed up there.”

As Gibbons steered the faux food down Golden Center Freeway, cars swerved in front of him, honking and pointing.

As he steered into the SPD market parking lot on McKnight Way, Paula Whitler thought she’d put the trio out of their misery.

Too bad the joke was on her.

“I just felt bad for you,” she told Gibbons. “I knew it was April Fool’s Day, and I’ve fallen for all the tricks.”

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