Jimmy Fallon's Finger Fracture Fans the Flames of Unrest in Saugerties
Published July 19th, 2015
SAUGERTIES — The high-water mark etched on the storefront window of the Five & Dime here symbolizes not just a tight-knit community's resilience in the face of tragedy, but also its complete inability to cope with it in a rational, non-destructive manner.
When word spread that hometown-hero and College of St. Rose alum Jimmy Fallon tripped on a rug and broke a finger in June, hysterical citizens — unsure whether the damaged digit would have to be amputated —began looting and setting fire to downtown businesses.
“Shit really hit the fan, I'm not gonna lie,” said Mayor Bradley Gip. “It was touch and go here. People panicked. Good people. And, well, we all know what happened next.”
But Gip’s critics disagree, claiming the only people who actually know “what happened next” are the ones who caused all the damage.
“I saw Mayor Gip throw a cinderblock through an antique store window, grab a lamp and run,” said life-long resident Toby Gossard. “Tears were streaming down his face. He was in his underpants. It was crazy.”
Now in his fourth term, Gip wouldn’t confirm Gossard’s story.
The three-day siege reached its climax July 8, when a dam upriver exploded, forcing the banks of the nearby Esopus Creek to overflow. The downtown area quickly flooded and a full-scale evacuation was issued.
Martial law went into effect on Day Two of the riots as rumors that the Tonight Show host lost his finger began circulating amongst the hordes of rabble-rousers hell-bent on destroying everything in their path.
“I lost the whole ball of wax that night,” 87-year-old Gertrude Studebaker said as she wept in front of a burned-out husk that had once been her home. “But I can understand. We just love our little Jimmy.”
Finally, on July 10, as the waters began to recede, so too did the anarchy. By the next day, townsfolk joined together and started the long process of rebuilding their community.
“For a few days, Saugerties was just about the best place in the whole world,” said Vera Clockly, owner of a downtown diner that had to be leveled due to water damage. “Everyone was chipping in and helping out. It was great.”
Betty Dungman — who lost her Tiny Tykes Preschool after it erupted into flames two days before flood waters carried it out into the Hudson and south toward Poughkeepsie —echoed Clockly’s sentiments.
"We are not victims, we are survivors," she told The Smudge. “We'll be fine... well, as long as Jimmy's fine, I guess.”
Meanwhile, Fallon — who is notorious for not being able to keep a straight face during sketches — couldn't stop cracking up during his 6-hour-long surgery, even as doctors were jerking veins out of his foot and transplanting them into his mangled finger. He spent 10 days in the I.C.U. before returning to the Tonight Show on July 13th.