• Weird History

Poorly Conceived Attempts At Whimsy That Turned Into Disasters

List RulesVote up the biggest disasters organizers really should've seen coming.

While anyone can come up with an event, it takes more than just a good idea to pull it off. Between permits, budgeting, and advertising, success can be attained with the right contacts, patience, and resources. The most important skill, however, is the ability to prevent - or, at the very least, handle - the absolute worst-case scenario. Because it can and will happen, especially if wind is a possible factor. 

Even the most well-intentioned attempts at fun and whimsy can have dangerous if not fatal consequences. Some surefire things to avoid are balloons, skittish jaguars, and copious amounts of low-priced alcohol. Common sense is always helpful.

  • 1

    The Rio Olympics Brought Out A Jaguar For The Torch Relay, But It Got Loose And Had To Be Shot

    Video: YouTube

    At a torch relay ceremony leading up to the 2016 Olympics in Rio, Brazil, a rescued female jaguar brought to the event as a mascot lashed out against her handlers. The jaguar escaped from her handlers and immediately attacked a soldier. After tranquilizer darts failed to subdue the animal, a soldier shot the jaguar to keep everyone safe. 

    Animal behavior expert João Paulo Castro told BBC Brasil the jaguar probably reacted in such a way because she was stressed out from the noise and crowds. 

    Was this doomed from the start?
  • 2

    Cleveland Released 1.5 Million Balloons To Break A World Record, With Fatal Consequences

    Video: YouTube

    In an attempt to break a world record set by the city of Anaheim, CA, the previous year, United Way of Cleveland in Ohio released approximately 1.5 million balloons into the air in 1986. The spectacle was marvelous at first, the entire sky blanketed in rapidly ascending helium balloons, but the beauty quickly faded into disaster as the balloons inevitably returned to ground. Due to rainfall right before the release, winds blew the balloons away from Cleveland, making the release and subsequent drop someone else's problem.

    United Way settled several lawsuits as a result of the balloon stunt. One resident in Medina County sued for balloons spooking their prized horse, while another woman sued for the wrongful death of her husband, who drowned in Lake Erie. He most likely would have been found by the Coast Guard if the entire water and sky had not been suddenly covered in balloons. Because balloons are not biodegradable, they were either an ugly addition to the landscape for a long time to come or a big mess to clean up. 

    Was this doomed from the start?
  • 3

    Jägermeister Threw A Pool Party With An Accidental Poison Gas Cloud

    Video: YouTube

    In 2013, a Jägermeister-sponsored pool party in Mexico took a dark turn when organizers poured four buckets of liquid nitrogen into the swimming pool. They had no ill intent; their goal was to create a smoke-on-the-water effect, but organizers didn't consider how that would affect those swimming in the pool. 

    The liquid nitrogen reacted with the chlorine, creating a noxious cloud that left many at the party struggling to breathe, let alone swim. Some swimmers were unconscious and began falling under the water, in grave danger of drowning quietly amid all of the chaos. Nine attendants received medical care after the incident, including one man who went into a coma.

    Was this doomed from the start?
  • 4

    Coke’s 'MagiCans' Malfunctioned And Customers Drank Chlorinated Water

    Photo: My100Cans / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain

    Coca-Cola offered a "MagiCan" promotion in 1990 that ended up far from magical. To spur sales, the company hid cash and coupons inside about 750,000 regular Coke cans, turning them into MagiCans. To make the prized cans weigh the same as non-MagiCan Cokes, the company added lightly chlorinated water that was sealed away from the spring-loaded prize mechanism. 

    The seal between the water and the prize was often faulty, however, and many people ended up drinking chlorinated water. Though the fine print of the promotion stated the water was not potable, the company was still held liable for its poorly advertised warning. Coca-Cola took out costly newspaper and TV ads to discourage people from drinking the contents of MagiCans. 

    Was this doomed from the start?