The Crichton Leprechaun (also the Mobile Leprechaun, Alabama Leprechaun) is a supposed sighting of a leprechaun in a tree in Crichton, a neighborhood of Mobile, Alabama following a 2006 news report filed at local NBC affiliate WPMI-TV. The video was posted to YouTube on St. Patrick's Day 2006 and became one of the first YouTube viral videos and was referenced in mainstream media. As of 2018, the video has over 28 million views.
Original WPMI-TV report
The video was shot in the Mobile neighborhood of Crichton, located near Toulminville. The community is divided by Spring Hill Avenue into North Crichton and South Crichton, bounded generally by Mobile Street, Dauphin Street and Interstate 65. The leprechaun was purported to be seen in a tree on Le Cren Street near Bay Shore Avenue.
On March 14, 2006, local NBC affiliate WPMI-TV was alerted to crowds gathering in Crichton, and dispatched reporter Brian Johnson to investigate. Johnson had previously received numerous calls about possible leprechaun sightings and questions about it from friends at a barbershop and his church. "Things sort of snowballed" when the crew arrived, anchor Scott Walker later recalled, with multiple people claiming to have seen a leprechaun in a tree. Crichton resident Nina Thomas-Brown submitted a crudely drawn sketch of the supposed leprechaun. Among those who were interviewed was a woman who opined that instead of a leprechaun, "It could be a crackhead." Another interviewee, Demarco Morrissette, claimed Irish ancestry and showed off a "special leprechaun flute," that he claimed was thousands of years old. Morrissette became known as the "Flute Man" due to his appearance in the report. "I actually saw what was sketched on paper," said Johnson at the time. "Some people say it is a shadow from some of the branches being too close and that there is moss on the tree that could explain it. Certainly I don't believe it's a leprechaun!"
The piece was aired twice, once on the nightly newscast and again on WPMI's morning newscast. That version, introduced by anchors Scott Walker and Nikole Patrick, was the broadcast that went viral.
The report received attention from MSNBC, radio personality Howard Stern and received a piece in The New York Times, in which columnist Virginia Heffernan called the clip "a local Alabama news segment that seems too hilarious to be real." Reporter Brian Johnson was interviewed by radio stations in Dallas and Los Angeles following the report. Political commentator Bill O'Reilly of Fox News's The O'Reilly Factor debated whether or not the video perpetuated racial stereotypes. The video was also lampooned on Comedy Central's The Daily Show, Key and Peele, and South Park. Tosh.0 featured the clip in a "Web Investigation" segment in 2011, with host Daniel Tosh visiting Crichton and interviewing those involved with the video. Tosh referred to the clip as "the Gone with the Wind of Internet videos. It's old. It's famous. And it makes the South look terrible." Many quotes and elements of the video, most notably the alleged leprechaun sketch, were printed on T-shirts, mousepads and other merchandise. WPMI-TV later auctioned off the leprechaun sketch for $1,100 on eBay, with the proceeds benefiting the American Cancer Society's Relay for Life.
The clip continues to receive media attention annually on St. Patrick's Day. Walker now works for WDSU-TV in New Orleans and has written on his website about the report: "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."
The Bob and Dan Show on KTCK 1310 The Ticket in Dallas conducted a field investigation in 2014 interviewing locals about their memories of the incident. Numerous witnesses identified the Crichton Leprechaun as a local African American dwarf "Midget Sean". The interviewers were brought to meet the man, who recounted the story as a prank played on the local community in which he dressed in a leprechaun suit and climbed a tree while his friends alerted others about a leprechaun sighting.
- on YouTube
- "Mobile leprechaun story revisited by TV anchor (St. Patrick's Day Fodder)". Press-Register. March 17, 2011. Retrieved March 17, 2014.
- Mike Brantley (April 11, 2006). "Crichton leprechaun sketch fetches $1,100 bid on eBay". Press-Register.
- Debbie M. Lord (March 17, 2014). "St. Patrick's Day brings fond memories of Crichton's leprechaun". Press-Register. Retrieved March 17, 2014.
- AL.com and Press-Register staff (July 27, 2011). "Mobile leprechaun reaches mythical status as the 'Gone with the Wind' of Web videos". Press-Register. Retrieved April 7, 2014.
- Scott Walker (February 28, 2011). "The Mobile Leprechaun: Background". ScottWalker.TV. Retrieved March 17, 2014.
- Heffernan, Virginia (April 5, 2006). "Comic shorts, home on the Web; The young stars of a new medium". International Herald Tribune.
Finally, a funny video that deserves more views on YouTube is Leprechaun in Mobile, a local Alabama news segment that seems too hilarious to be real.
- Virginia Heffernan (April 3, 2006). "Now Playing on YouTube: Web Videos by Everyone". The New York Times. Retrieved March 17, 2014.
- Brantley, Mike (July 30, 2009). "TV's Bill O'Reilly asks: Is Crichton Leprechaun news story racist?". Retrieved April 7, 2014.
- "Dan Finds the Leprechaun". The UnTicket. July 11, 2014. Retrieved March 26, 2017.
- "BAD RADIO REPORTS « BaD Radio | Bob and Dan | Sports Radio 1310 The Ticket". BobAndDan.com. Retrieved March 26, 2017.