Boys cry ‘fire’ in theater as joke (1917)

Small boys cry “fire” as joke in theater

Panic of 900 is narrowly averted, while many women faint

Francis Laplante, thirteen, of No. 1120 Madison Avenue and Mortimer Levy, fifteen, of No. 1868 Park Avenue pushed their heads in the side door of the Alhambra Theatre at One Hundred and Twenty-Sixth Street and Seventh Avenue about 9:30 last night and shouted “Fire”!

The 900 men, women and children who packed the house started to rush for the exits. Harry Baily, manager of the theatre, jumped on the stage and yelled that there was no fire. This prevented what might have become a serious panic.

Several women who fainted were carried to the foyer and there revived by physicians recruited from the audience.

John Crowley, a member of the Fire Department, James Finan, a detective of the Fourth Uranch, and Baily chased the two boys to Eighth Avenue, where they caught them.

The boys, one of whom attends school and the other runs errands, were taken to the West One Hundred and Twenty-Third Street Station, where they were locked up on a charge of Juvenile delinquency.

They told the desk lieutenant they thought it would be a good joke to make the people in the theatre believe there was a fire, and that there would be lots of excitement.

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