How fake news led San Juan County Park to be called Butthead Park | The Gerbil

Editor’s note: This article is for the April Fools edition of the Journal and is not real news. Satirical articles will be labeled with this editor’s note, while real stories will not include a note about April Fools’ Day.

By Hay Day

Gerbil staff reporter

Tourists are flocking to the San Juan Islands to visit a site found in a recent New York Tymes article.

Last month, the national publication promoted the top 10 must-see-best-kept-secret-have-to-go vacation spots, which included the idyllic San Juan grounds the writer dubbed Butthead Park. Locals have known it as San Juan County Park.

Tweets from @NewYorkTymesTravel like “Ultimate daycation trip at Butthead Park on San Juan Island,” went viral, which included a sunset photo and #adventureseeker.

More than one million responders tweeted back. @NonstopAwesome wrote “Don’t call it a dream, call it a plan. #buttheadpark #vacationgoals2018.” @PrincessPanda added a selfie captioned “Camping under the stars at Butthead Park back in 2010, BEFORE @NewYorkTymesTravel said so. #belikeme.”

The New York Tymes writer allegedly saw the name of the park on what he thought was the county’s official travel website, but was actually, a now defunct URL, allegedly started by the Whidbey Island visitor’s department to divert San Juan tourism.

Like most fake news, the incorrect park name has gained momentum in insular online forums.

Truther Kathy Smith, who said she has lived on San Juan since 1972, started the Facebook group “Butthead Park SJI Fans” in response to deniers, like the county council and Friday Harbor mayor, who still call the grounds San Juan County Park. Smith said the “elitist government representatives” have an “obvious butthead bias” and that she recalls weekend picnics at Butthead Park with her family in the 80s.

“This has been a long time coming, but finally the true park name is being used again,” said Smith.

County staff have also reported that Twitterbots, which is a software program used to send out automated tweets, have exasperated the spread of fake news. Staff currently suspect the bots may have been created to undermine American culture by the U.S.’s most common foreign enemy: Canada. Recent suspicious tweets include @RickyPizzaKing: “No vacation plans, eh? Head out for a rip @ButtheadPark on @SanJuanIsland. Sorry to say “Butt.” #sorry”

The fake news has had real effects on the pastoral islands, where county reports show local visitors have nearly doubled in the last month.

County council will hold a public hearing next Thursday to discuss whether staff should add a slash and “Butthead Park” to the San Juan County Park sign to alleviate lost tourists looking for the misnomer. The San Juan Island Chamber of Commerce is also printing new brochures, highlighting Butthead Park, now the most popular attraction, on the front page.