Chaos reigned yesterday in The Park, as Tapio Orava prepared to fulfil his duties as 2013 Keeper of the Nut.
Orava could not hide his discomfort as he stretched out his arms and returned the Nut to the citizenry in a ceremony that has great historical significance.
Swearing the ancient oath that the Nut was “kept from harm and preserved intact,” he said he could see and hear thousands of protesters around him, waving signs and shouting at each other.
“I didn’t know, at first, that they weren’t protesting against me, but I didn’t know why they would be doing that,” he said later. “So I just tightened my tail and got on with the business at hand.”
The protesters came from two different camps: some were members of The Park’s hibernating communities who had come out in support of Hieronymous Hedgehog and others were vehement supporters of controversial Toro Talk Radio host Yannis Tavros. At one point, surrounding Orava, they declared war on each other and Park Police were forced to step in to quell the demonstration.
“I was mortified…for The Park and for him [Tapio Orava]…and I was sad,” said Beatrice Zilonis, a professor in the Department of History at the University of West Terrier.
“This is a day of great significance to us…a day that has always been one of pure joy, marking the end of hibernation and reuniting most of The Park’s residents. It is a day when we all come together and celebrate our survival. They [the protesters] had no business being there,” she said.
Noticeably absent from the ceremony was Hieronymous Hedgehog, who is at the centre of the controversy, along with Yannis Tavros. According to his hibernating compatriots, he is still resting in his burrow and is unaware, as yet, of the firestorm that his Groundhog Day remarks created.
“He’s living in blissful ignorance,” said his cousin Cyril, stifling a laugh. “But I doubt that that can last much longer.”
Meanwhile, according to Park Police, the half-day celebration of survival and solidarity yielded 400 arrests, 175 injuries and, as of today, 4 lawsuits.
“I guess you could say it wasn’t just another day in The Park for us,” said Gareth Shepherd, President of the Federation of Canine Security Workers (FCSW), who oversaw security at the event.