At Rapture Runway, Pair Passed Over

Johvanni Colon and Eddie Perez didn’t know that they had staked out a nearly 375-year-old launching pad for the End of Times when they picked the New Haven Green to await the strike of 6 p.m. Saturday.

The pair decided to find an open-air spot to observe what might or might not happen at the hour that Family Radio Network preacher Harold Camping had told the world that righteous people would be swept up into heaven in the biblically envisioned “Rapture,” setting off months of hell on earth leading to the destruction of those left behind.

It turns out that a doomsday preacher from another era, John Davenport, had the same apocalyptic inauguration of Judgment Day on his mind. So New Haven was laid out to accommodate the masses of people who it was believed would be swept up in the Rapture, when it arrives. New Haven’s founding Puritans figured the Green would make an ideal spot for the airlift.

As it turned out, the Rapture didn’t arrive at 6 p.m. Saturday. That was OK with Colon, a self-described anxiety-prone man of 22. He said didn’t quite think the end of the world was coming. But he wasn’t sure.  “You never know,” he said.

So at 5:45 p.m. a bench on the Green served as a pew for Colon and his friend Eddie Perez. They sat with their back to the flagpole in a carefully chosen location for prime viewing, just in case. Perez was smoking rather nervously.

“We figure we have enough time to run if the financial center comes down,” Colon said.

Earlier in the afternoon the two friends had emailed each other and began to talk about the prediction.

“An open field seemed like a very good idea,” said Perez.

“We’d heard about the end of the world so many times. It doesn’t faze you,” Perez added.

Still, at 5:55 he checked his watch against the clock at the top of City Hall. There was a minute’s discrepancy.

“Time to move to the open field,” he said.

Colon admitted his heart was beating a little more rapidly as the hands of the clock atop city Hall neared six.

If Camping’s apocalyptic vision turned out to be true, that would be a shame too, Colon said. “I have no job, I’m not in school. I’m just trying to figure out life. Hey, bad timing. I start my life, and then it’s over. It sucks.”

“Yeah, we want our money back,” said Perez, an army reservist, and the more skeptical of the pair. The two moved farther out into the open field of the great Green.

At the risk of giving a history quiz at potentially our last moments on earth, a reporter asked: Did either of the young men know that New Haven’s Green is as big as it is because the zealous Puritan founders wanted a space large enough to accommodate all 144,000 souls scheduled to be raptured up per prophesies in the Book of Revelation?

The Green was measured to the size of the Hebrew encampments in the Book of Exodus, with just the right number of cubits to accommodate the saved if they stood precisely shoulder to shoulder. That’s why Elm City’s Green is the biggest in New England.

Perez and Colon said they hadn’t know they had come to the right place, the ground zero for the Rapture. Location, location, location.

At 5:57 the Green looked normal as could be. Passersby carried some packages from here to there in front of a litter can urging all to give Mother Earth a helping hand.

Clearly, if the Proprietors of the Green had planned for such a doomsday in their bylaws, or if the Town Green Special Services District’s smiling ambassadors had made preparations, they weren’t in evidence.

Four bicyclists dropped their wheels on the Green grass and began a picnic. A young man lay on his back on the bench by the fountain and was reading. If there was something palpably eerie in the air, it was a little kid riding his bike along the lanes of the Green and crying out some indecipherable and inconsolable call of distress.

Was that another sign? Suffering children.

“All I know about the Green is that there are bodies buried under it,” said Perez.

5:58. In order to cope with a vestige of nervousness, Perez said of Harold Camping: “He’ll have a lot of explaining to do if nothing happens.”

At 5:59 the young men shook hands just in case one of them was Raptured up and the other left. You never know, Colon observed.

By 6:01, the apocalypse had clearly passed New Haven by.

Colon, looking relieved, gave a thumbs up. Life would go on.

While the Saturday doomsday prediction provoked much mirth in the media and was dismissed by most ministers, a mainstream interpretation of end times theology does counsel people to live each day as if it were their last.

Within minutes of the non-Rapture, Perez and Colon were gone. They had said the next apocalypse on their radar was the Mayan calendar’s prediction for 2012.

That’s a better kind of prediction, said Perez, who had read up on it already. “There’s no destruction,” he said. “Things just stop.”

Reporter Allan Appel is the author Portable Apocalypse: A Quotable Companion to the End of the World.

David Sepulveda Photo



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posted by: Danny Haszard on May 22, 2011  8:53am

Watchtower Jehovah’s Witnesses have little credibility with their own fairy tale primary doctrine of Jesus ‘invisible’ second coming October 1914
Watchtower society false prophets declare end of world in 1874, 1878, 1881,
1910, 1914, 1918, 1925, 1975, and 1984..DannyHaszard been there!

posted by: robn on May 22, 2011  10:32am

Welcome to New Haven gents…please consider staying so you can join the rest of the insane people who’ve settled down here.

posted by: Candle for Peace on May 22, 2011  12:59pm

Thanks to Allan Appel for the exquisite shot of the beautiful rainbow that did appear in the Westville sky at dusk on Saturday, and thanks for an interesting article.  If the Rapture looks like that rainbow it certainly would be worth being “caught up.”  I enjoyed reading this article. 

I am glad that we live in a qualified democracy so statements, such as the one written by ‘Danny Haszard’ can stand.  Clearly, Mr. Haszard simly copied information found at This site claims as its main sources: Grolier’s 1995 Multimedia Enclyclopedia, Funk & Wagnall’s Encyclopedia (these are normally reliable resources in terms of source content), but they go on to include Harold J. Berry’s (HJB) What They Believe and Jack Sin’s Focus on JW’s, April 2000, pp16-20. There is no way of telling what portion of the information they provide came from the latter two sources.

JW’s say we are living in the days of Revelation; this means that the things that are predicted in the Book of Revelation are happening now; they have been happening for some time and are referred to by many as the last days of this system.  Any person who believes in a literal translation of the King James bible would come to the same conclusion given all of the evils being visited upon us daily: children are killing their parents and parents killing their children; the violence in our communities, the barbaric and totally unethical behaviors of those in power; govts killing their own people, etc. These are all reasons for many to believe (or hope) there must be relief soon. Of course, there are many of us do not believe that God is going to fix things for us; we must fix them ourselves.  This is why as citizens we have a responsibility to speak out against these evils, and do our part to improve our communities.

Whenever times are desparate some people look for easy answers.  Religion has been as much the cause of grief as it has been a rescue from it; thus these escapists theories.

Having spent years learning from and about JW’s, to the best of my knowledge, they have never, nor do they predict any single day to be the “rapture”  JW’s do not believe in a “rapture.”  One of the scriptures they do believe in is Psalm 37, 9-11.  What they do say is that after the earth has been cleansed (no one knows how this will be done), there will be 144,000 annointed who will enjoy a heavenly kingdom with Christ for a 1,000 years. They did not say these will be caught up the way “rapture doctrine” does; most likely they will dies as people normally do, and the meek will inherit the earth. 

It is a bit reckless to make assertions and publish those as truths, especially when we are simply restating claims written elsewhere. Instead of making hostile statements against JW’s, it might be more helpful to use these events to examine our own practices and principles; we can all do something to make our respective community a better place to live.  Peace

posted by: robn on May 22, 2011  5:04pm


Just in case you misunderstood me, I wasn’t using the term “insane” in a pejorative manner, but in a welcoming one. A fresh supply of offbeat people are the lifeblood of this community.