The Jefferson Iowa News®


  RAGBRAI Jefferson Stop A Complete Hoax  

Monday July 21st the whole community was victim of an elaborate hoax. That’s right, while all of Jefferson was playing host to almost 5,000 visitors…the actual RAGBRAI riders were in Mason City! The actual “riders” that spend Monday night in Jefferson were a huge band of gypsies that came from the nearby South Dakota border area!
JeffersonIowaNews was tipped off to the deception by a few eagle-eyed locals that noticed a few things were out of place. Things such as the downtown square Monday night. Normally when RAGBRAI comes into town you would expect to find several vendors selling food, crafts, and various forms of family entertainment. It was reported that the vendors on July 21st included three food vendors, a t-shirt booth and twenty-seven fortune teller/palm readers. Many residents were given estimates on roofing and/or siding improvements.

The local law enforcement agencies reported that illegal activities were above normal on Monday, July 21st:
126 - Autos stolen
214 - Cases of Shoplifting
2,814 - Fraud involving elaborate knife sharpening scam
7 – Counts of selling bogus Irish Sweepstakes tickets

A few quotes from people who were at ground zero of this intricate hoax:
Marge Bickel – “I was curious as to why of the eight RAGBRAI riders who stayed at my place Monday night, only one seemed to have a bike with him. After they left Tuesday morning I spent about an hour cleaning my house. To my absolute shock I found out that I was missing my television, microwave, all our copper plumbing, and my cat Sweetie-pie. I spoke with a policeman who told me that he believed those gentleman to be gypsies! Well, I tell you what…I loaned one of the gentlemen my cell phone and I am going to straight up ask him if he is a gypsy, when he returns the phone. By the way, when they left they all had bikes."

Hank Walters – “As the coordinator of this event I can’t help but place a small part of the blame on me. Especially after those damn gypsies pulled the same stunt in ’86. Christ, I should have realized when the two gentlemen that were the 'official RAGBRAI scout crew' were named Fiddler Ted and Black Toe Willie. I don’t know. They were pretty slick. Maybe I’m being too hard on myself."

Mason City reported that all 10,000 of the RAGBRAI contingent were very well-behaved and the whole community felt positive regarding the experience. Residents of Jefferson were reporting over $1,750,000 worth of damages and most experts believe it will take nearly eighteen months to “rebuild the city”.

Rick Bland
Contributor at large