Sometimes reality is better than fiction.
The year was 1938. America was just coming out of the Great Depression and Hitler had risen to power in Germany, stirring fears of another World War. On October 30th, listeners of CBS radio heard what many thought was a live broadcast of an invasion by Martians who landed in the small town of Grover’s Mill, New Jersey, rampaging through the countryside on their way to New York City. Panic ensued, with people all over the county phoning their local police stations for updates and advice.
In reality, the broadcast was a Halloween spoof of H.G. Wells’s novel “War of the Worlds,” performed by Orson Wells. Unlike the original story, the radio broadcast was set in New Jersey and was performed in a news bulletin format that sounded so realistic that many people believed the story. Wells was criticized for his “prank,” (although an announcement at the beginning and end of the broadcast informed listeners that it was fiction), but went on to become the famous director of “Citizen Kane.”
Today, there is a marker that commemorates the site of the martian landing in a lake-side park in the town of Grover’s Mill. Several signs along the short trail to the marker describe the event.
A cute little family-owned coffee shop just a few minutes away (http://www.groversmillcoffee.com/about.html) is decorated with posters and other memorabilia and is a nice place to stop for a drink or snack to eat at the park while you admire the marker.
Location: Only 15 minutes from Princeton (Aaron Burr, Grover Cleveland and the Best Epitaph Ever – Princeton’s Nassau Cemetery (don’t forget the ice-cream!)) or BAPS Robbinsville (An Unexpectedly Spectacular Hindu Temple in New Jersey)