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Pranksters returned OS symbol Amsterdam’s Olympic Stadium

Club excels in New Year’s Eve ritual

Tags: Excerpts from the Windmill

AMSTERDAM - The five Olympic rings that had been illegally removed from Amsterdam’s Olympic Stadium just before Christmas, have been returned to its owners by a Frisian New Year’s Eve club known for its high-profile pranks.

The stadium’s officials already had suspected they had been targeted by a New Year’s Eve pranks club but decided to report the missing rings as having been stolen, just to be on the safe side. In similar instances, the police usually close their case file once the missing objects are back in their place. The Frisian activists spoofed their displeasure at Amsterdam’s bid for the 2028 Olympics, which they demand must be held in their Frisian hometown of Oldeberkoop, a very old town in the southeastern region of the province, in a new stadium to be build there. The New Year's Eve pranks’ club De Geitefok finds the Amsterdam stadium, built in the late 1920s, just too old to host another such event. The missing rings normally decorate the stadium’s entrance.

On previous occasions, the Oldeberkoop club made off with a seal sculpture from the Pieterburen seal sanctuary (2005), the striking De Joker sculpture along the A7 motorway (2003), the bronze sculpture of the popular former football coach Rinus Michels (2002) and the sculpture of children’s book character Bartje, in the northeast of the country (1992).

Free daffodils

The New Year’s prank is part of a decades-old custom of ‘borrowing’ public objects in December and returning them in January. Geitefok, which pulled its first stunt in 1945, is responsible for a long series of highly publicized pranks. In their 1962 caper, they hauled away a ten-piece carillon from Heerenveen, a town in the region, and an antique canon from distant military base ’t Harde, a guarded facility, all unnoticed.

They also pulled a stunt on Oldeberkoop’s population one year, when they distributed door-to-door a freebee offer of daffodils to anyone taping the yellow flyer to their window. Later that day, Oldeberkoop’s anticipating public, which had positively responded to the offer, heard to its chagrin via a loudspeaker wagon, a Thank You for participating in the April 1 joke.