June 14, 2020

Social Distancing, Bigfoot, and a Night-time Theft in Brimfield

Social distancing. It's the phrase on everyone's lips these days - and I hope those lips are hidden behind a mask. Maintaining a safe distance from others is one of the ways we can help end the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Public health experts have been doing their best to spread the social distancing gospel, and they have an unusual ally helping them: Bigfoot. The ever-elusive cryptid has become the unofficial poster boy for social distancing. 

It makes perfect sense. After all, have you ever been closer than six feet to a Sasquatch? Probably not. When someone gets too close to Bigfoot he runs away. Or maybe he throws a boulder. Either way, he doesn't want to catch COVID-19. 

Shortly after the pandemic started in the U.S. I started seeing "Bigfoot: Social Distancing Champion" memes showing up in my social media. I don't know who first created it but the meme has really taken off this spring. Here are just a few samples:

You can buy "Bigfoot: Social Distancing Champion" tee-shirts online, and there is even a Bigfoot: Social Distancing Champion running challenge to benefit U.S. food banks. All participants run on their own, unlike traditional road races.

There are also quite a few videos out there. My favorite is this one from Gatorland, an alligator theme park outside of Orlando. The park's new mascot is Social Distancing Skunk Ape, which is the Florida term for Bigfoot. He's insistent you stay distant! 

Bigfoot's social distancing even made news here in Massachusetts. In April, Brimfield resident Tod Disotell reported that a six-foot tall Bigfoot statue had been stolen from his front yard. Disotell, an anthropologist who has appeared on Spike TV's show 10 Million Dollar Bigfoot Bounty, had been adorning the statue with face masks and signs encouraging social distancing. 

From Twitter
Disotell's statue became something of a local attraction, but was stolen the night of April 22. Security camera footage showed two hooded figures cutting a security chain before absconding with the statue. Happily, police located the statue a few days later in downtown Worcester. Bigfoot is now back in Disotell's front yard to encourage people to maintain social distancing. 

People use the symbol of Bigfoot in all kinds of ways. Corporations put him in a lot of ads, but I find his non-commercial appearances more interesting. During the insanely snowy winter of 2015 (aka Snowmageddon), a Somerville, Massachusetts man in a Yeti costume became an internet sensation. In 2017, a marijuana leaf-covered Bigfoot gained brief fame as Pot Sasquatch. And last fall,  a small Vermont town learned that construction on a bridge was delayed due to Bigfoot. The big monster doesn't usually say much but people find lots of ways to make this shy, quiet cryptid speak for them.

The real Bigfoot hasn't said anything about this current fame, but that's probably because he's out in the woods social distancing. He's setting a good example for all of us. 


Tune into Midnight Society radio this Thursday, June 18 to hear me talk with host Tim Weisberg about cryptids, witchcraft, and other weird New England themes. The show airs live from 10:00 pm - 1:00 am Eastern time. It will be a spooky good time!

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