May 21: Mocking the Doomsday that never happened

When the clock struck 6:01 p.m. Saturday, the world didn’t end but a contributor recorded what the moment looked like outside doomsayer Harold Camping’s home in Oakland, Calif. The shades were drawn, two sedans and a pickup truck sat outside and nobody answered the door to explain the rapture that wasn’t.

By yesterday afternoon, the pamphlet-distributing believers who had treated the area around the Clothespin statue at 15th and Market streets as their missionary service zone for several months were nowhere to be found. In their place stood Chad Wanzek, a graphic designer/performance artist who moved to Philadelphia from North Dakota more than four years ago.

“Rapture souvenirs,” he said repeatedly, handing out the believers’ “The End of the World is Almost Here! Holy God Will Bring Judgment Day On May 21, 2011” booklets. The difference was that Wanzek’s version came complete with a red “Certified Copy, May 22, 2011” stamp with a plug for his personal website.

“I checked the news out of New Zealand around 2 a.m. just out of curiosity. That left me pretty much certain that the world didn’t end,” Wanzek said. What inspired him to do this was “years of getting hit up by people handing out these pamphlets.”

Wanzek’s only regret was not coming up with a gimmick that told passers-by that he wasn’t just another leaflet-pushing believer.

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