Fake memorial honors those lost in ‘Brooklyn Bridge Elephant Stampede of 1929’

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BROOKLYN — It was Oct. 29, 1929, and Wall Street took a historic dive.

On the same day, world famous showman P.T. Barnum walked a herd of elephants across the Brooklyn Bridge to remind the public of the bridge’s stability.

No one could’ve predicted what happened next: Chaos and tragedy unraveled and the elephants charged, leaving several spectators dead and many more injured.

The event, known as the Brooklyn Bridge Elephant Stampede, would get buried in the headlines as the Stock Market collapse eclipsed it all.

Memorializing that dark day in history is a sculpture in Brooklyn Bridge Park near Pier 1.

If you’re thinking to yourself, "Wow, I never knew that happened," you’re not alone.

That's because the Brooklyn Bridge Elephant Stampede never did happen.

The sculpture along with its salacious tall tale is the brainchild of Staten Island-based artist Joe Reginella, whose mere intention was to simply give them –- as in us -- something to talk about.

“For that one moment or two when you’re looking at the statue and you’re starting to believe this story,” he said, “I’m taking you to a fantasy world for a couple of minutes and that’s fun.”

If the premise of memorializing an event that never happened sounds familiar, you’re probably thinking of Reginella’s 2016 masterpiece The Staten Island Ferry Disaster, which was sparked on by a giant octopus attack.

That piece, which the artist called a social experiment, became so popular he decided to continue the tradition, this time incorporating Brooklyn.

This year’s sculpture is accompanied by a brochure, a walking tour narrated by actor David Johanson and a short documentary .

“If you Google it and you find out it's fake, you are still in for a nice piece of entertainment,” he said.

It served as a great backdrop for selfies when PIX11 stopped by Brooklyn Bridge Park on Tuesday.

Some tourists we spoke to walked away, believing the hoax.

“That is so surprising! I thought it was real,” said tourist Lars Fritzberg. “We’ve been tricked!”

In a world where fake news has caused plenty of harm to the culture, it’s Reginella’s hope that his project prompts more people to do their due diligence.

“Just do your research and don’t believe everything you hear,” he said.

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