For many, Thanksgiving is the most American of holidays. It is a celebration of the ingenuity and perseverance of our European ancestors. In 1977, radical liberal Jerry Springer (yes, that Jerry Springer) was elected mayor of Cincinnati. He allowed an event to take place that would become the single greatest tragedy in Thanksgiving history.
The following story is a stark reminder that when liberalism takes hold in America, we take steps backwards as a society. ￼
It was a brisk autumn afternoon in Cincinnati on Thanksgiving Day of 1978. The sun shone brightly upon the Pinedale shopping mall where hundreds had gathered to participate in what was surely going to be a promotion for the ages.
No one could have ever imagined the tragedy that would beset them.
Fledgling local radio station WKRP had recently undergone a format change, switching from easy listening to rock & roll. Staff leftover from the laid back previous format had a difficult time adjusting to the more party-like atmosphere the new on-air personalities were bringing.
These struggles were apparent on the airwaves, and listenership was struggling because of it.
In an attempt to breathe new life into WKRP, General Manager Arthur Carlson came up with a promotion that he felt would engage the station with its new audience. At noon on Thanksgiving Day, a helicopter would release hundreds of turkeys high in the sky over the parking lot of Pinedale mall.
It would not only be a celebration of the holiday, but a statement to put WKRP back on the map of the Cincinnati radio market. It was supposed to be, “The greatest turkey event in Thanksgiving history.”
The crowd gathered early. There was definitely a buzz in the air. Little did they know that the buzz in the air would later turn into actual buzzards on the ground, feasting on the dire outcome of the ill-fated event.
A few miles away at the Cincinnati International Airport, a Boeing CH-47 Chinook cargo helicopter would be loaded with several cages full of turkeys on the tarmac. At 11:30 am the helicopter took off heading southeast towards the mall.
It arrived at 11:45 am and hovered over the parking lot. WKRP’s news anchor Les Nessman was on site along with GM Arthur Carlson. Nessman’s broadcast was played live over a public address system set up in the parking lot to rile the crowd.
As the noon hour approached, the cargo doors on the Chinook opened. The crowd went into a frenzy. At the strike for 12 pm, a crew member on board the helicopter opened the cage doors.
What happened next would forever be etched into the memory of survivors as perhaps the most horrific events of the human experience. Hundreds of turkeys were dropping straight towards the crowded parking lot.
The flightless birds fell like bombshells. A panic ensued. Hundreds were trampled, and even more fell victim to the plummeting poultry.
Ever the professional, Nessman continued his broadcast amidst the chaos.
“Oh, the humanity! People are running about. The turkeys are hitting the ground like sacks of wet cement!”
When the final bird lay splat on the pavement, people immediately began to cry fowl.
Needless to say, this was a huge boon for WKRP’s ratings. People tuned in from all over the greater Cincinnati area to hear the station explain themselves and apologize for the botched promotion.
In a final statement regarding the disaster, Arthur Carlson said, “As God as my witness, I thought turkeys could fly.”