In what can be chalked up to the worst guerilla, crowd marketing idea since the last guerilla, crowd marketing idea in Charlestown (i.e., Sullivan Square 2007), the National Parks Service (NPS) and the Boston Police worked frantically for about an hour on Saturday, Aug. 10, to identify and – ultimately – detonate a suspicious box in the Navy Yard that turned out to be an international hoax.
It was a beautiful afternoon on Saturday, and the NPS had a huge program going on regarding the history of Rosie the Riveter during WWII in the Yard.
About 11:15 p.m., however, things came to a halt when a visitor to the Yard from Pawtucket alerted NPS rangers about a suspicious black box that read ‘Open Me’ placed on a park bench. That brought a response from the NPS law enforcement and the Boston Police Bomb Squad.
“He was sitting on the park bench and saw it on the bench in front of the flag pole,” said NPS Boston Supt. Michael Creasey. “It was a small black box about the size of a cell phone and it said ‘Open Me’ on it. He went over and informed an interpretive ranger who informed our law enforcement folks.”
The Boston Police reported that another box was found at One Beacon Street in Boston. Another box was found in the Navy Yard near Constitution Road by the gazebo and a third was given to a sailor in the Navy Yard near First Avenue. Others were reported to be found in Cambridge on Friday and Saturday. One of those boxes was opened by the person who found it, and it contained $50 and explained that it was a social experiment to see what people worldwide would do with found money – that according to a story online at Universal Hub.
The Boston Police sent in the Bomb Squad and they x-rayed the box by the flagpole and found it increasingly suspicious because of some wire they thought the observed. Out of safety, the Squad detonated the package and cleaned up the mess – though they destroyed the park bench.
The entire incident in the Navy Yard was over within an hour, Creasey said.
“They ended up blowing it up, which destroyed the park bench and disrupted our entire event,” he said. “We had the entire area roped off. After they blew it up, they cleaned up and took the parts away…I give a lot of credit to our law enforcement folks and Boston Police Bomb Squad. They worked together really well.”
Police have indicated that two people did turn themselves in and revealed that it was a worldwide experiment whereby packages were left all over the world. However, at such a pressure-cooker time in American – one week after two mass shootings, Creasey said he couldn’t think of a worse moment to stage such a campaign.
“Right now, I can’t think of a worse idea than to place a box in public with a label that says, ‘Open Me’ on it,” he said. “The good news is it was a marketing package that was not a dangerous situation other than making it one. It certainly was disruptive to all the visitors coming to the National Park for a very big weekend.”