Published August 22, 2007 12:23 am - A woman from Kansas and her mother from Texas came to Mankato expecting to see an underwater city, a pyramid and whales.
Parody Web site fools two into visiting Mankato
Pyramid, underwater city don't really exist here
By Amanda Dyslin
Free Press Staff Writer
Rosaura Prada stood in tears Tuesday
morning after several frustrating hours of trying to find someone to
give her answers about a fake Web site that led her to Mankato.
Prada, of Edinburg, Texas, brought her
mother, Maria Alcantar, of Garden City, Kan., on vacation to Mankato
Monday to see the underwater city, the pyramid and maybe do some whale
watching. But when they arrived at their motel, they found no one knew
about these and dozens of other attractions that the Web site at
http://city-mankato.us claims Mankato offers.
“Over the summer my mom was looking up
Minnesota, where she lived (when she was a child), and she found the
Web site,” Prada said. “She would have no way of knowing if these
things existed — she was just a child.”
The tourist attractions listed on the site
— called “Mankato, MN: The Official City-Mankato.US Home Page” — do not
exist. The site was built in 1996 by Don Descy, an educational studies
professor at Minnesota State University, to teach his students against
believing everything they read on the Internet.
Descy is out of the country and did not
reply to e-mail. It is unclear if Descy considered taking the Web site
down after learning of similar incidents in the past when people have
visited Mankato based on his site.
There is a disclaimer on the site. At the
bottom of the main page the word “Disclaimer” is a link, which goes to
another page of various paragraphs of text. At the bottom of that page,
part four of the disclaimer reads: “Mankato, as portrayed on these
pages, DOES NOT EXIST! ...or does it??? PLEASE do not come here to see
these sights. (This had to be added because several individuals have
come here to see some of the sights listed on these pages!) What can I
There also are clues on the site that it is
fake. No. 15 on the attractions list is simply “A Girl,” which leads to
a picture of Pamela Anderson. Also, the Minnesota River does not
contain whales, which are saltwater animals, as is stated in No. 12.
Shelly Schultz, Mankato public information
director, said the city takes great care to ensure the city’s official
Web site includes accurate information. She deferred questions to the
Greater Mankato Chamber of Commerce regarding the city’s stance on
Liz Sharp of the Chamber said there’s little the Chamber can do about Descy’s Web site.
“We have no control over anything that’s
out there regarding his Web site, and, yes, people have come to town
because of that,” she said.
The Chamber sent a letter to Descy in 1996,
which he posted on his site, that states the Chamber is troubled by the
site and was embarrassed when people have called and inquired about the
Prada and her mother would like the
disclaimer to be more visible on the page. The two left Mankato Tuesday
morning on the way to West Bend, Iowa, to see the Grotto of the
Redemption before Prada drops her mother off in Kansas and heads home
When she left Tuesday, Prada said she could at least take comfort in knowing the Grotto will actually be there when they arrive.