Speaking Personally

No, I Was Not In On the Joke
(but I definitely laughed)
It started as a seemingly simple photo contest. The City of Willow Springs invited high school students to submit photographs showcasing the town. About 30 photos were posted online for voting. 
The picture that received the most votes was a striking view of the hills of Center St. taken by Willow Springs High School senior Ricky Maggard. The City announced him the winner, and true to their word, are currently displaying his photo on their Facebook page. 
The morning after he was announced the winner, I went to the school to photograph him receiving a gift card from the City Clerk. I don’t know Ricky personally, but I have to say he looked awfully nervous when we pulled him out of class to take the picture. 
It really is a striking image, so we blew it up on last week’s front page. The paper hadn’t been on the stands for a full day before I started getting texts and calls about the picture. 
As I’m sure most of you know by now, there was a lot more to that photo that initially met the eye. License plates on cars were edited to read “STINKY,” the Welcome sign in Smuck Plaza read instead “WE CLONE,” there was a smiley face on a bird on a wire, and the stop signs definitely did not say “stop.”
You know what? It was pretty funny.  
Admittedly, I have a pretty prudish sense of humor, and even I laughed until my sides hurt when I saw the toilet humor on the front page of my beloved newspaper. 
It’s pretty tempting to analyze the editorial point of view the mischievous edits seem to suggest, but I think that only spoils the joke.
His alterations escaped the notice of every adult involved, myself included. As a community, we voted for that photo. It’s a great picture, and I think he deserved to win. 
Truly, my hat is off to Ricky. May this prank on the entire town live on in legend.
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Howell County News

110 W. Main St.,
Willow Springs, MO 65793

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