Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Gnoming for Sport and Profit

'Gnoming' or 'The Traveling Gnome Prank' is when you steal someone's garden gnome, then send them pictures of said gnome from various exotic location. Gnoming started in the seventies, and continues to this day usually as a more or less innocuous prank.

Image may contain: 1 person, standing and outdoorThe first roaming gnomes were fellows by the names of Harry and Charlie. They traveled with human Henry Sunderland to Antarctica in 1977. Charlie was sent down to a research station by the south pole, where he survived a fire, and became a mascot for the researchers there. Upon returning to civilization Sunderland published the photographs of his garden guardian friends, and so a craze began.

After that 'gnoming' became something of a prank. Miscreants would steal garden gnomes from unsuspecting owners, then send the owners pictures of where the gnomes had gone. Many gnomes went on grand world tours with their new friends, and became partial inspiration for the 2001 French film Amelie, which made its way to Broadway in March.

What's more, gnoming became inspiration for a multi-million dollar ad campaign run by Travelocity in the early 2000s. A friendly looking gnome with a big red hat and an English accent promoted to travel company with his testimonials from exotic locales.

Image result for travelocity gnomeGnoming is, for the most part, a lighthearted prank, but some people take it very seriously. There are several organizations, The Garden Gnome Liberation Front being the most popular, dedicated to freeing the clay creatures from their lives of garden ornamenting. These groups steal hundreds of gnomes, often depositing them in forests, or occasionally in large groups in public places. There was also a staged mass gnome suicide in 1998, which I cannot fathom the purpose of.

Gnoming is, essentially, one of the most ridiculous pranks around. It's more or less harmless, even if it is technically against the law.

Christchurch City Library
Daily Mail
The Mirror

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