Friday, March 27, 2015

Bigfoot Spotted Near Durango

This article appeared in a recent edition of the Durango Herald, which spawned a discussion on Facebook about an earlier version of Bigfoot sightings in the area.

Here's the story of the Durango Bigfoot that came along a few years before this recent sighting.

In 1977 or so, Herb Newbold and I climbed up into the big cottonwood tree at Cottonwood Campground on Lightner Creek and stole the fake, stuffed gorilla that was sitting on one of the branches. We had to attempt the caper twice, because we didn't realize on the first attempt that the gorilla was chained and locked to the tree. So we came back the second night with bolt cutters from Herb's Dad's shop and climbed back up the tree with those-- that wasn't easy. We cut the gorilla out and gave him back his freedom. The gorilla was stuffed with pillows, but the feet were filled with concrete-- we didn't know that-- and when we cut him free, he plummeted to the top of a metal picnic table, making quite the racket as everyone was trying to sleep in their campers. The lights came on and the dogs started barking... and we ran down the road carrying our prized and mostly limp gorilla. By the way, we didn't really consider it "stealing" since the campground and gorilla belonged to a member of Newbold's family. That's called rationalized truth. :-)

Newbold would get dressed up in the suit, wearing a football uniform and shoulder pads underneath for bulk, and I would drive him up in the woods and drop him off, usually on Test Track or behind Perrins Peak. Then I would go back to town and pick up the unsuspecting victims and ask them if they wanted to go offroading in my Jeep CJ5, a very popular ride among teenagers in the mountains of Durango, Colorado. Sometimes I'd have the cloth top folded down, which would make for even better theatrics, as the victims were entirely exposed to the Bigfoot monster that was about to set upon them. I would drive back up to the woods where Newbold was waiting and he would jump out, run in front of the headlights and make a crazed Bigfoot scene with growls and roars and flailing arms, then run off into the woods again. I would swerve back and forth and do my part for an Academy Award, and drive past in a panic of dust. The unsuspecting victims were, 100% FREAKED OUT. Uncontrolled, blood curdling screams were the norm. After adding to their freak out with my fake freak out ("Did you see its fangs?!?!"), I would turn the Jeep around-- "We have to escape and get back to town!!" Taking a chapter from all horror movies, the Jeep would occasionally and coincidentally lose power and lights, and there we were, sitting in the dark, helpless lambs to the monster, cranking the engine to no avail. Then Newbold would jump from the woods and repeat the scene and the screaming would start all over again. One of the victims, Eileen Mahoney, screamed, "Just run it f****g over!!!"... but I thought that might be taking the acting a little too far. Everyone that we took along for a ride, fell for it-- hook, line, and sinker. Steve Janes and Paul Harmon called the sheriff's office when we got back to town and the next morning, they showed up at my parent's doorstep, armed with rifles, ready to go back and hunt the beast. They were aghast when I told them that I couldn't go because I had to mow the lawn. Mowing the lawn vs. hunting Bigfoot seemed like an easy choice to them. We probably scared 20-30 people, total. We made the police blotter, which we considered a major coup, as well.

The gorilla suit spent its last days in Mom and Dad's attic.  Or at least I thought it did until now. :)

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