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Hold the phone: Neighbor says Super Bowl prank was in good fun
Timothy Witten sure got fired up over the Seattle Seahawks’ big win against the Denver Broncos in this year’s Super Bowl.
And so did his neighbor’s mailbox.
Residents on Old Mill Road are still chuckling over a good-natured neighbor-against-neighbor football rivalry that rattled an unknowing passerby to the point where she called authorities and sent police cars and a fire truck roaring to the Bainbridge neighborhood.
The friendly football fracas started well before the Seahawks marched to their first-ever championship earlier this month.
The matchup: Witten for Seattle in one corner and Dan Parsons, a Denver transplant to the island, in the other corner. Two neighbors, two friends, but above all, two die-hard football fans.
Let the Super Bowl bets and pranks commence.
“This started all the way back in the summer, because we had a feeling it was going to be a Seahawks-Broncos game,” Witten said.
The shenanigans started small.
In October, Parsons and his wife Melissa Weakly asked Witten to watch over their home while they were out of town.
When they returned from Europe a couple weeks later, they came home to find Seahawks boxing gloves hanging from their car’s rearview mirror.
Not long after, Witten said, the two were having an off-the-grill dinner with their families.
Halfway through the meal, Parsons served up another portion of payback wrapped in aluminum foil for Witten.
“Inside was this molten mass of plastic,” Witten said.
Through the pungent odor and grilled plastic goo, Witten could see it was his Seahawks rearview mirror boxing gloves grilled to perfection; done medium-well.
Fast forward to one month before the big game, and the bet is now on the table for real.
The winner’s prize: The loser’s mailbox gets painted in the winning team’s colors and logo. And the loser has to endure the painted mailbox for a full year.
It’s a bet that neither thinks he is going to lose.
But now, to the play-by-play.
Just days before Super Bowl Sunday, Witten walks out to his mailbox where it sits at a bank of mailboxes on the side of a residential road. Attached to the red mail flag are paint swatches. One is blue, the other Bronco orange.
On a sticky note, Parsons writes, “Timo, pass these along to your decorator, and let me know what (colors) you decide on ... Dan.”
Without hesitation, Witten runs home, retrieves a piece of aluminum foil, some matches and his phone to video record the action about to unfold.
His plan: to do a version of Parsons’ grilled boxing gloves with the swatches.
As he’s juggling the various tools for the operation and the swatches fail to ignite, Witten decides to hold the samples up high to catch a more dramatic flame with the camera on his phone.
The flame goes up about a foot for a second, and in almost the same moment, a car driving past the mailbox bank skirts to a stop.
It’s not a yellow flag, but something much worse. A woman jumps out of the car and begins screaming at Witten, ‘What are you doing?!’
“I’m here trying to put out the flame so it doesn’t ruin the whole thing, so he can still tell what it is, and I also have my phone in my hand and the matches,” Witten recalls his response to the panicked passerby. “I said, ‘Oh, don’t worry about it. It’s a joke. I live here. He’s a Broncos fan.’”
The woman jumps back in her car, still frantic and drives off.
Laughing at the whole thing, Witten thinks the incident is over and returns to his house.
Moments later, though, blue lights are flashing outside his front door and he sees two Bainbridge Island police cars and a fire truck.
“I come out and I can barely talk because I’m so humored by the situation,” Witten said.
By the time he gets three quarters through his explanation, the officers are likewise doubled over and laughing with him. Police make the call: Nothing to investigate here.
Parsons’ mailbox was painted last week in Seattle Seahawks colors.