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Mysterious coconut appears for 33rd straight year

PEORIA, Ill. -- Ed Clinch's annual coconut was delivered by a television reporter this year and came decked out in a Santa Claus beard.

It was the 33rd straight year Clinch has received a coconut.

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In the past, they have been delivered on horseback, by parachute, by clowns, by the mayor and by the Bradley University basketball team.

This year Carol LeBeau, a reporter for WMBD-TV, got the call.

'I got an anonymous phone call last week,' Ms. LeBeau said. 'It was an elderly man's voice. He asked if I'd be willing to help out with the annual coconut giving.'

She said she agreed and earlier this week the man 'ran it in (to the station) in a large brown sack with my name on it. He did it so fast the girl at the reception desk didn't even get a look at him.'

Ms. LeBeau arranged a delivery time, notified other area news media who have come to expect the annual event, and presented the fruit to an unsurprised Clinch.

With the coconut was a somewhat cryptic, somewhat off-color note which said in part, 'I am the last.'

Clinch, who believes his old World War II Army buddies are behind the long-running gag, said he doesn't think that's right. He said he believes two of the original gang of about 15 are still alive.

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