Pranks are supposed to be funny, but some sports fans weren't laughing this week after two local venues decided to pull one over on their fans.

Thursday was April 1, but Hudson Valley residents could be forgiven for not realizing it was April Fools Day in 2021. Fearing for the health of loved ones, dealing with financial stress and anxiety from a year of lockdowns, and juggling childcare responsibilities all while trying to contain another local surge in COVID-19 cases, many people in the Hudson Valley are just trying to get through the day without falling apart.

Most major corporations have decided to take the year off of marketing their businesses and products with those lame April Fools pranks that we've come to loathe over the past few years. You know the ones; Heinz is coming out with pumpkin-spice flavored ketchup, Apple has announced the iToaster or McDonald's is switching to hot dogs. These jokes are usually so ridiculous that customers immediately know that something's up allowing them to be in on the joke.

But this year, many of those companies have agreed to put a hold on the social media marketing campaigns out of respect for the hell of a year everyone's been having. Google went so far as to announce that April Fools day was canceled until the world is in a better place.

However, some local businesses didn't seem to get the memo and decided to launch their own pranks with mixed results.

The Orange County Fair Speedway announced on their Facebook page that they were paving over the racetrack's famous dirt course. The dusty track is 60 years old and a source of pride for many race fans in Orange County. The joke was taken in good spirit by most fans, but others who didn't get it at first lashed out in anger. Donald Baisley wrote that he was "pissed off" after reading the headline. Paul Claver angrily typed "asphalt sucks" and Donald Pomarico warned, "That's a dangerous trick to play."

While most people realized that paving the track at the Orange County Fair Speedway was a harmless little joke, another Hudson Valley sporting venue received some major backlash for a prank that had less to do with humor and more to do with shock value. The Hudson Valley Renegades released an official statement on their Facebook page revealing that VP and announcer, Rick Zolzer, was suspended for an undisclosed incident.

As many of you know, there was an incident last night involving Renegades Vice President Rick Zolzer. Mr. Zolzer has been placed on administrative leave while we conduct an internal investigation into the matter. An official statement from Management will come later today

With so many celebrities and politicians canceled this year due to unsavory comments or unethical actions, the statement was something many people have seen over and over again in 2021. Immediately, the response from fans was that of concern, hoping that Zolzer was ok and that the situation wasn't as bad as it sounded.

After some fans suggested that it might be a prank, many Renegades fans got even more upset, hoping that the franchise wouldn't be that tone-deaf or insensitive. Barbara Corbett wrote, "If this is an April Fool's Day joke, this isn't funny at all." Others shared that sentiment, writing that the confusing statement was "not funny." Sal Aguello said the joke was in "poor taste."

Overall, the majority of comments were negative, with one fan calling it the "worst April Fools joke ever." Local sports reporter, Rich Thomaselli was also taken aback by the odd prank. His concern wasn't just the fact that it was in poor taste, but that it wasn't particularly funny.

And forget that it's "not funny" or "in poor taste," It's just poorly conceived like they threw it all together at the last minute this morning after arriving at work and looking at the calendar.

The backlash caused some fans to show their support for Zolzer, telling others to lighten up. But by then it was too late. The angry response forced the Renegades VP to release a video apologizing for the tasteless prank.

Zolzer admitted that he was behind the statement and says his phone blew up with calls, including one from the stadium demanding that he return to do some damage control. The Renegades' VP apologized, "I'm sorry if anybody's upset. I'm sorry if anybody didn't get it." and maintained that the prank was just an elaborate plan to take the day off and catch the Yankees' opening day game.

The Renegades will begin their season on the road on May 4 and plan on welcoming back fans to Dutchess Stadium for the first time in almost two years at the home opener against Aberdeen on Tuesday, May 11.

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