blueberry shenanigans

August 25, 2016 at 4:12 pm Leave a comment

Guest blogger Jonathan Caws-Elwitt supplies these excellent Susquehanna County Library Shenanigans.

Newberry

Newberry the Blueberry [at right] with the author, 2007.

When my wife, Hilary Caws-Elwitt, worked for the Susquehanna County library system in Montrose, Pennsylvania, an important part of her job—an important part of everybody’s job—was the Blueberry Festival, the big annual fundraiser held every August.

Most years, Hilary’s festival duties included some time spent working the crowd in the Newberry the Blueberry costume. That was normal. But in 2006, Hilary added to her repertoire by staging another little stunt for herself.

The library had been selling Blueberry Festival cookbooks, and Hilary wanted to try offering them online. As she explains, “because the time spent would be a gamble, I ‘bet’ my boss that I would roll a blueberry down the sidewalk with my nose if we didn’t sell at least N copies (or make X dollars—I don’t remember which it was).” She notes that the bet was a premeditated idea, not an impulse of the moment.

And though Hilary did her best to market the cookbooks, she admitted at the outset that she was “rooting to lose, because I thought it would be funny and possibly newsworthy” to do the blueberry-rolling stunt.

blueberry_nose

Hilary Caws-Elwitt rolls a blueberry down the sidewalk.

Hilary continues: “We didn’t quite meet the target by the time July rolled around, so in my pitch letter to the local TV news stations [for festival coverage], I mentioned that I’d be doing the stunt. At the designated time, a TV crew was indeed present.” But, in terms of spectacle value, the display did not quite bear fruit. “Rolling the berry, even downhill, was quite challenging because it was so small, blueberries aren’t very round, and the sidewalk was rough.” The halting and inelegant progress of Hilary and the berry down the sidewalk didn’t shape up as what we’d call “good television.”

However, the stunt did make it onto television … and yet there was a little issue with contextualization. “The footage ended up being broadcast under a narration about the festival, which didn’t mention at all who I was or what I was doing. So there was no explanation for why this middle-aged woman was crawling around on all fours with her butt in the air.” The blueberry, of course, was too small to be seen by TV viewers. “Luckily I never mind making a fool of myself.”

by Jonathan Caws-Elwitt

Entry filed under: perpetrated by staff, public libraries.

excellent literary prank (even if it’s fake) I’ve got a golden ticket…

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