Scores made a literal run for Bethel’s Cultural Center boarder Sunday, as Taco Bell employees served up 10,000 free tacos: a gesture company officials say is aimed at turning a hoax into something good.
Earlier this summer many of the city’s 6,500 residents saw fliers telling them the Mexican fast food restaurant would soon build a Bethel location.
Excitement quickly turned to disappointment for the western Alaska community, serving as a hub for 57 surrounding villages, when the police department said a feud had produced the fraud.
After Taco Bell executives learned about the mix-up they flew in ingredients, and even a large taco truck on a helicopter, to divvy out the feast.
“I’m just amazed at how many people showed up,” says Sheena Nelson who was upset when she originally heard about the hoax. “So I’m going to go get my taco fix today.”
The company also came armed with a film and social media crew.
"We want to interview the community to talk about great things that are being done in the Bethel,” CEO Craig Creed told Bethel Radio station KYUK. “And then have a social presence. We have about 8.5 million Facebook followers. And what we want to do is get some recognition for all the great things happening in Bethel.”
The radio station also reports some residents are concerned Taco Bell executives only provided the free lunch to reap the benefits from the publicity.
“There will always be the skeptics,” Creed told KYUK. “And my hope is after Sunday that they see what we do. And they believe we're doing the right thing.”
Taco Bell officials say there is still no plan to build a Taco Bell in Bethel.Email Matthew Simon.