The coastal community of Clearwater, Florida received quite the shock early one morning in 1948. There, in the sand, were fresh footprints that were unlike anything ever seen before. The tracks lead out of the Gulf Coast and up the beach, before turning around and heading back into the water. The police chief was awakened early in the morning to investigate the strange occurrence, and rumor quickly spread that there was a monster living amongst the residents of Clearwater Beach.

Soon, other beach communities began to be visited by the “monster,” with tracks appearing on beaches from Clearwater to Sarasota. The tracks were even spotted 40  miles away from the coast along the Sawannee River, as stated in an article by MIKE SIROTA. Hilariously, residents concluded that there was a 15-foot giant penguin on the Florida coast, with various local papers printing photos of the mysterious footprints.

Expert zoologists were brought in to analyze the prints and to interview witnesses who claimed to have seen the mysterious creature. The experts eventually concluded that the track were real and not a hoax.

For 10 years the footprints appeared up and down the west-Florida coastal region before abruptly stopping. For 40 years the origins of the footprints remained a mystery until a local man by the name of Tony Signorini finally came forward admitting the prints were an elaborate hoax thought up by he and  his prankster friend, Al Williams.

Tony Signorini’s son Jeff pictured with his niece and the infamous molds he used for his hoax

Signorini and Williams made the feet out of cast iron with each one weighing a hefty 30lbs each, and attached them with bolts to a pair of high top sneakers. The duo would then row out to shallow water where Signorini would put the molds on and begin his deceptive walk up onto the shore. It was not an easy feat due to the weight of the molds, but the reaction their prank received fueled their hilarious efforts for the next 10 years.

Tony Signorini passed away in 2013 at the age of 91 and in his obituary, his family made sure to mention he was the infamous “Clearwater Monster” which made national headlines and baffled a community for 40 years.

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This piece originally appeared in UpliftingToday.com and is used by permission.

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