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April fools shenanigans, keeping morale high

MISAWA AIR BASE, Japan – Capt. Bryant Esendencia, 35th Communications Squadron director of operations, discovers a sea of approximately 100 balloons in his office April 1. The prank was compliments of his Airmen. Captain Esendencia was one of many Airmen across Misawa to fall prey to April fool’s high-jinks. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Phillip Butterfield)

Capt. Bryant Esendencia, 35th Communications Squadron, Misawa Air Base, Japan, director of operations, discovers a sea of approximately 100 balloons in his office April 1, 2010. The prank was compliments of his Airmen. Captain Esendencia was one of many Airmen across Misawa to fall prey to April fool’s high-jinks. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Phillip Butterfield)

MISAWA AIR BASE, Japan -- "Ah, what is this?" exclaims an Airman as he opens the door to his office to see a sea of balloons April 1.

The history of April Fool's Day dates back to 1582 with the reform of the calendar under Charles IX. The Gregorian calendar was introduced, and New Year's Day was moved from April to January 1.

Back then information moved slowly, usually by runner, so many people didn't receive the news until years after the fact. When some people received the news they decided not to conform and continued to celebrate the New Year on April 1. The people who didn't change to the new calendar were made fun of and branded the "April fool."

Today, the tradition of branding people the April fool is a light-hearted exchange of pranks and shenanigans, which brings excitement, keeps one on their toes and fun for everyone involved.

"I received a phone call from Pacific Air Force's Head Quarters asking me to produce all my statistics and fiscal year financial requests for the wing's antiterrorism program by the end of the day," said James Fogerty, 35th Fighter Wing Antiterrorism Office antiterrorism officer. "Even if I had a full shop with nothing else to do it would take some time. So, after I got over the initial shock of the request, I started making my case for more time. About 3 minutes into the conversation that I was getting stonewalled in, I heard April fools and laughter, after a sigh of relief and a little embarrassment I got the joke. You know that when you get punk'd by higher headquarters, you should pay more attention to the date."

April Fool's Day is a "for-fun-only" observance. There are no expectations of gifts, days off or fancy meals. It's a day where rank and station in life don't apply, and everyone becomes a target for light-hearted chicanery.