My local paper, the Daily Hampshire Gazette (subscription required), ran this front-page story on Thursday:
Several illuminated electronic devices planted at bridges and other spots in Boston threw a scare into the city Wednesday in what turned out to be a publicity campaign for a late-night cable cartoon. Most of the devices depict a character giving the finger….If there was ever a sign that we’ve slipped back into pre-9/11 complacency, this is it. Two cheers for the people of Boston for eventually noticing the devices and alerting the police, but how did the company’s hired go-fers manage to plant them in such sensitive locations in the first place? Why no reaction from the other cities? We’ve just revealed a huge hole in our national security to any terrorists who read the AP wire, and for what? A box of french fries flipping the bird. Well, they do say fast food can kill you.
Highways, bridges and a section of the Charles River were shut down and bomb squads were sent in before authorities declared the devices were harmless.
Turner Broadcasting, a division of Time Warner Inc. and parent of Cartoon Network, later said the devices were part of a promotion for the TV show “Aqua Teen Hunger Force,” a surreal series about a talking milkshake, a box of fries and a meatball….
“The packages in question are magnetic lights that pose no danger,” Turner said in a statement.
It said the devices have been in place for two to three weeks in 10 cities: Boston; New York; Los Angeles; Chicago; Atlanta; Seattle; Portland, Ore.; Austin, Texas; San Francisco; and Philadelphia….
Authorities said some of the objects looked like circuit boards or had wires hanging from them.
The first device was found at a subway and bus station underneath Interstate 93, forcing the shutdown of the station and the highway.
Later, police said four calls, all around 1 p.m., reported devices at the Boston University Bridge and the Longfellow Bridge, both of which span the Charles River, at a Boston street corner and at the Tufts-New England Medical center.
The package near the Boston University bridge was found attached to a structure beneath the span, authorities said.
Subway service across the Longfellow Bridge between Boston and Cambridge was briefly suspended, and Storrow Drive was closed as well. A similar device was found Wednesday evening just north of Fenway Park, police spokesman Eddy Chrispin said.