For most people, St. Patrick’s Day means corned beef, green clothing, and plenty of Guinness. For former WPMI anchor Scott Walker, it means that a wildly popular YouTube video featuring him is passed around.
In 2006, Walker anchored a newscast that featured a story about a leprechaun sighting in the Crichton area of Mobile, AL. Video of the broadcast was uploaded to YouTube and it became a proto-”Bed Intruder” sensation, racking up tens of millions of views (video above).
Currently with New Orleans’ WDSU, Walker is now opening up about the experience and explaining the story behind the video that has inspired novelty t-shirts, various YouTube remixes, a Wikipedia entry, and even a “South Park” sketch.
On his personal blog, Walker provides the backstory:
It was covered as a real news story…at first. We heard reports of large crowds gathering in the Crichton community and police were being called out. We didn’t know WHY they were gathering. The way I remember it, we weren’t going out there to cover a Leprechaun sighting (that would have been a questionable decision). We were going out there to see why such large crowds were causing problems in the neighborhood. When our crew arrived, things sort of snowballed. People were looking up at a tree and saying there was a Leprechaun in it. We started shooting video and that’s when the people of Crichton took over and turned this story into an internet sensation.
Although in his estimation he’s been seen on YouTube by more people than in all of the newscasts he’s anchored in his career, Walker continues to have a sense of humor about the video and the experience. He says that he and his wife buy new t-shirts emblazoned with the video’s “amateur sketch” of the leprechaun every couple of years for St. Patrick’s Day–websites like Cafe Press continue to stock the novelty shirts.
When the video began making the internet rounds, some criticized WPMI for seemingly exploiting members of the Chrichton community, which is a lower income section of Mobile. Walker says that by all accounts the people who appeared in the video were excited about the publicity. “From what I remember they all loved it,” Walker told the Gambit recently.
Ultimately Walker says that people, including himself, should have a sense of humor about the unexpected YouTube hit:
It’s fun to be part of something that’s talked about so much for so long, although some of my co-workers are probably really tired of it. But I never get tired of hearing about it. It’s funny and ridiculous and makes people laugh. I always say that I could be immortalized on YouTube for something far worse. I’ll take this.