Hey George! ‘Undiscovery Day’ rediscovered

Effort to revive the whimsical Ocean Shores tradition starts tonight.

By Scott D. Johnston

Cries of “Hey George!” will once again echo from the beach as a unique Ocean Shores event, “Undiscovery Day,” is resurrected this evening at the Shilo Inn on Ocean Shores Boulevard.

Undiscovery Day was started in 1969 by legendary publicist and general purpose creator of craziness, Bob Ward, who was always on the lookout for new ways to publicize the young community that was still being built on the North Coast.

After some informal research, Ward declared that April 27, 1792, was the date that “Capt. George Vancouver, the great British explorer, sailed past what is now Ocean Shores on his ship, the HMS Discovery.”

To commemorate Undiscovery Day, “a bunch of us went out on the beach on April 27 and we yelled out to sea several times, ‘Hey George!’ Then we went back to the bar.” Ward’s silly stunt made the UPI wire service and ultimately ran in such diverse publications as the Detroit Free Press and Playboy magazine. The following year’s event included a trans-Atlantic phone call to folks at the inactive HMS Discovery in London.

“There was nobody like Bob Ward to come up with crazy ideas that made people look forward to all this fun and craziness,” recalled North Coast journalist and historian Gene Woodwick.

In 1986, the Ocean Shores City Council passed a resolution declaring the last Saturday in April each year should be celebrated as Undiscovery Day. The proclamation noted that “despite his consummate skills as an explorer, Captain Vancouver made one of the world’s major oversights in the annals of exploration by utterly failing to discover Ocean Shores.”

The event ran for more than a quarter-century.

Lately, the informal Tourism Action Group has been working to bring it back to life. Patricia Wright, Dianne Hansen and Judy Horne have made posters and signs and are spreading the word that Undiscovery Day will be celebrated today, starting at 6:30 p.m. at the Shilo Inn. Wright said the idea is simply “trying to recapture some of the good fun found in Ocean Shores’ past.”

In keeping with the silly spirit of the original event, plans are pretty loose. Weather permitting, the party will move to a bonfire near the Chance a la Mer beach approach. North Beach Speech Masters president Mike Preston will give an informal talk, and the shouts of “Hey George!” will commence at sunset.

Hey George! ‘Undiscovery Day’ rediscovered