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Famed Oregon Coast Exploding Whale Celebration in Florence Next Weekend

Published 11/03/23 at 4:23 a.m.
y Oregon Coast Beach Connection staff

Famed Oregon Coast Exploding Whale Celebration in Florence Next Weekend

(Florence, Oregon) – It is very soon that time of year again, where Florence goes back to its roots and gazes back lovingly (and with plenty of giggles) at the event that helped put the Oregon coast on the world stage in kind of the wrong way. November 12 is Exploding Whale Day, filled with varied remembrances and celebrations of the day Oregon officials tried to help by doing the absolutely incorrect thing. (Still from KATU video)

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It was November 12, 1970 – now 53 years ago – that what was then the Oregon Highway Department tried to get rid of a smelly, beached whale by blowing it to bits. The result was a worldwide sensation a couple of decades later, as the internet came into being and popularized this video more than anyone dreamed possible.

See Exploding Whale on Oregon Coast Video, History

Florence looks back each year at its globally-famous whale occurrence, and this time the 53rd Anniversary Exploding Whale Memorial Celebration is happening Sunday, November 12 from noon to 6 p.m. at Homegrown Public House and Brewery, 294 Laurel Street in historic Florence Old Town. The whole party is free, family-friendly, open house-style and this year it brings the other star of the video: former news reporter Paul Linnman live and in person.

The event is more than a little quirky and it's becoming legendary fun all its own.

From noon to 3 p.m., there will be representatives from various marine-based agencies to talk about what they do to protect wildlife on the Oregon coast – especially those beneath the waves. There will also be a presence from the Eugene Emeralds, who featured the ever-popular Exploding Whale alternate identity uniforms during one whole season.

Florence’s official-unofficial whale mascots, Flo and Rence, will also be present to visit and take photos with.

Attendees are encouraged to bring small offerings and mementos to pay homage to famed deceased cetacean, placing them at the art installation at one wall outside Homegrown Public House and Brewery.

“The exhibit will naturally evolve throughout the day into the evening when it glows with lights and the reflections of the colorful contributions,” said Terry Hankins, one of the organizers. “Wearing whaley fun costumes is encouraged too.”

Linnman will be onhand to sign autographs, take photos with and do a toast to the infamous Oregon coast figure.

It was Linnman who reported on the legendary “blasted blubber beyond all believable bounds” in the original KATU video, taken back then on large-reeled film.

At 3:45 p.m. look for the public toast to the whale.

There is also an Exploding Whale exhibit at the Siuslaw Pioneer Museum across the street from Homegrown Public House at 278 Maple Street, open from Noon to 4 p.m. The exhibit has actual whale bones from the central Oregon coast beastie and the museum is full of interesting Florence historical displays.

There is also a Whale Trail Map of Florence businesses offering activities and "whaley" cool items for sale to commemorate the occasion. The Whale Trail map and ongoing whale event news is posted on the event website,, on their Facebook page @ILoveForence97439 and will also be available at the event.

By the late '90s, the video had become the most watched video on the internet and stayed that way for about another decade until some celebrities eventually bested the viewing numbers.

The incident was notable for the moment when the explosives were engaged and a steady, disgusting red rain hit the crowd as well as plenty of chunks. One larger piece actually severely dented a vehicle.

Other aspects of the event aren't as well known, such as the fact camerman Paul Brazil and Linnman left the can of film in the trunk of someone else's car during the whole panic situation. The pair flew back to Portland without it, and if wasn't for that person driving the film all the way up to Portland the video might not have ever aired.

Another bit of surprise history lurks here as well: it turns out Florence was not the first on the Oregon coast to try blowing up a whale. Warrenton did this in the '30s, and there were similar results.

Why Oregon officials ever tried it again is yet another mystery. See "exploding whale" on the Oregon coast before this one - in Warrenton, in the '30s.

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Andre' GW Hagestedt is editor, owner and primary photographer / videographer of Oregon Coast Beach Connection, an online publication that sees over 1 million pageviews per month. He is also author of several books about the coast.

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