The younger generation didn’t know that pulling pranks on other people is not a new trick. In fact, back in 1948, the coastal community of Clearwater, Florida received quite the shock early one morning when in the sand, were fresh footprints from a creature that surely didn’t look like anything they have ever seen before.
A beachgoer discovered the strange, three-toed footprints in the sand that morning. They waded ashore, continued for 2 miles through the dunes, and then disappeared back into the surf. The prints were huge. They were 14 inches long and 11 wide. Whatever left them appeared to have a stride of 4 to 6 feet.
The tracks lead out of the Gulf Coast and up the beach then it turned around and headed back into the water. As it turned out, someone pulled a prank on these people and was only revealed four decades later.
The police chief was awakened early that morning to investigate the strange occurrence. The rumor quickly spread that there was a monster living amongst the residents of Clearwater Beach.
It didn’t take long for other beach communities to be visited by the “monster” too!
Tracks started appearing on other beaches, from Clearwater to Sarasota. The tracks were even spotted 40 miles away from the coast, along the Suwannee River. Some residents concluded that there was a 15-foot giant penguin on the Florida coast who is leaving these footprints. Even local newspapers caught on and started printing photos of the mysterious footprints.
A “Times” article asked: “Are the tracks really those of some weird, gigantic animal, a water-dwelling monstrosity that time forgot?”
The news spread like wildfire. The reports attracted the attention of a New York zoologist named Ivan Sanderson. He was brought into the area to analyze the prints. They also interviewed witnesses who claimed that they have seen the mysterious creature.
Sanderson eventually concluded that the strange footprint tracks were real and not a hoax. He said that the impressions in the sand were too deep to have been made by a man or a machine. He also said that he’d seen the thing himself while flying over the Suwannee, saying that the Old Three Toes was grayish-yellow, about 12 feet long, with large, flipper-like arms. It made big waves as if kicking with powerful legs.
For the next 10 years, the footprints appeared up and down the west-Florida coastal region. Then, it just stopped. For 40 years the origins of the footprints remained a mystery.
Then a local man named “Tony Signorini” came forward admitting that the prints were not real and that it was thought up by him and his prankster friend, Al Williams.
Recent reports say that Signorini and Williams made the giant feet out of cast iron with each one weighing 30lbs. They attached them with bolts to a pair of high-top sneakers. Then the two will then row out to shallow water where Signorini would put the molds on and begin his deceptive walk up onto the shore.
It was fun but definitely not an easy feat due to the weight of the molds. But it was definitely a success for them since the reaction their prank received made them continue on doing it for the next 10 years.
When Tony Signorini passed away in 2013 he was 91-years-old. And in his obituary, his family made sure to mention that he was the infamous “Clearwater Monster” which made national headlines and baffled the community for 40 years.